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‘There are years that ask questions and years that answer.’ — Zora Neale Hurston 

Over a career that spanned more than 30 years, Zora Neale Hurston published four novels, two books of folklore, an autobiography, numerous short stories, and several essays, articles and plays. Today, her work unites readers across the world, yet she died penniless, buried in an unmarked grave.

Black Girl’s Book Club co-founders Natalie A. Carter and Melissa Cummings-Quarry – who cite Neale Hurston as the ‘the patron saint of Black women’ – chair a conversation with poets Jackie Kay and Salena Godden about Hurston’s writing life, and how she has become regarded one of the most significant Black woman writers of the 20th Century.

Natalie A. Carter and Melissa Cummings-Quarry are the co-founders of Black Girls' Book Club, a literature and social events platform that celebrates literature by Black female writers. One of the UK's top live literature events, Black Girls' Book Club have hosted Bernardine Evaristo, Roxane Gay, Malorie Blackman, Afua Hirsch, Tayari Jones and Angie Thomas. Melissa and Natalie were named as two of The Bookseller's Rising Stars of 2019. Their debut book Grown will be published by Bloomsbury in 2021.

Jackie Kay is the third modern Makar, the Scottish national poet. Her collections include The Adoption Papers, Off Colour, and Bantam. Her novel, Trumpet, won the Authors’ Club First Novel Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize. She is also the author of three collections of stories and a celebrated autobiography, Red Dust Road. She was elected an RSL Fellow in 2002.

Salena Godden is a high-profile poet, activist, broadcaster, essayist and memoirist whose work has been widely anthologised. Canongate pre-empted world rights to her debut novel Mrs Death Misses Death, which will be published in January 2021. Pre-order at Waterstones.

We are grateful to the Hawthornden Charitable Trust for their support of this, the annual Hawthornden event, celebrating the influence that British and American writers have on one another.

This event is part of the British Library’s exhibition ‘Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights’, which explores how feminist activism in the UK has its roots in the complex history of women’s rights. 

28/10/2020 from  7:00 PM to  8:15 PM
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