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About the Book

Beyond the Book

704 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 29 illus., appends., notes, bibl., index

Gender and American Culture

Paper
ISBN  978-1-4696-1456-4
Published: March 2014

Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins

Black Daughter of the Revolution

By Lois Brown


Born into an educated free black family in Portland, Maine, Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins (1859-1930) was a pioneering playwright, journalist, novelist, feminist, and public intellectual, best known for her 1900 novel Contending Forces: A Romance of Negro Life North and South. In this critical biography, Lois Brown documents for the first time Hopkins's early family life and her ancestral connections to eighteenth-century New England, the African slave trade, and twentieth-century race activism in the North.

Brown includes detailed descriptions of Hopkins's earliest known performances as a singer and actress; textual analysis of her major and minor literary works; information about her most influential mentors, colleagues, and professional affiliations; and details of her battles with Booker T. Washington, which ultimately led to her professional demise as a journalist.

Richly grounded in archival sources, Brown's work offers a definitive study that clarifies a number of inconsistencies in earlier writing about Hopkins. Brown re-creates the life of a remarkable woman in the context of her times, revealing Hopkins as the descendant of a family comprising many distinguished individuals, an active participant and supporter of the arts, a woman of stature among professional peers and clubwomen, and a gracious and outspoken crusader for African American rights.

About the Author

Lois Brown is associate professor of English and director of the Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts at Mount Holyoke College. She is editor of Memoir of James Jackson, The Obedient Scholar Who Died in Boston, October 31, 1833, Aged Six Years and Eleven Months by His Teacher, Miss Susan Paul.


Reviews

"Includes not only excellent readings of her novels . . . but also much new information about Hopkins' ancestry and her later years. . . . Provides a solid base for future study. . . . Highly recommended."
--Choice

"Well written and an easy read. . . . This magisterial biography is a first-rate contribution that will appeal to scholars in New England studies, cultural studies, women's history, and African American studies."
--H-Net Reviews

"A rich and rewarding text and a skillful biography, which appeals to the reader interested in literary, regional, political, and family history; intertextuality; and interdisciplinary studies. This biography is an excellent example of the possibilities inherent in a revisionist view of history with race and gender at the center."
--Journal of African American History

"Brown uses extensive archival research, including genealogical materials, to trace significant events in Hopkins's life and experiences of her ancestors and to clarify inconsistencies in earlier studies. . . . The definitive Hopkins biography."
--Journal of American History

“The brilliance of Brown’s excavation of her career and the reverential consideration she provides for Hopkins make for happy reading and a long overdue appreciation for a true ‘black daughter of the revolution.’”
--African American Review

"Lois Brown's biography of Pauline Hopkins is a truly astonishing piece of scholarship. The research is prodigious, the material truly compelling, the writing clear and articulate. Brown's approach to Hopkins's oeuvre through the lens of family genealogy and ancestral legacy allows for a seamless interweaving of life and letters which works amazingly well. Hers will stand as the definitive Hopkins biography for decades to come."
--Carla L. Peterson, University of Maryland

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