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Alice Dunbar-Nelson Biography

(1875–1935), Violets and Other Tales, The Goodness of St Rocque

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Hilda Doolittle (H. D.) Biography to Dutch

African-American writer, born in New Orleans, educated at Straight University (now Dillard University). Dunbar-Nelson pursued many different careers in addition to her writing. She served as the secretary of the National Association of Colored Women; as an English teacher and the head of the English Department at Howard High School; she co-founded the Delaware Industrial School for Colored Girls; and was elected to membership of the Delaware Republican State Committee in 1920. Her first published work, Violets and Other Tales (1895), a volume of short stories and poetry, was followed by The Goodness of St Rocque (1898), a collection of stories. Dunbar-Nelson's early works, which often focused on Creole characters, evoked the language and settings of life in New Orleans. Some of her later stories, including ‘The Stones of Village’, explore darker, more troubling issues such as race relations and oppression. Much of Dunbar-Nelson's later work remained unpublished until the appearance of The Works of Alice Dunbar-Nelson (3 volumes, 1988; edited by Gloria T. Hull). Dunbar-Nelson was briefly married to Paul Lawrence Dunbar.

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