Google is helping the internet celebrate the life and legacy of Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960) — the Alabama-born, Florida-raised novelist, activist and anthropologist best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.
On Tuesday, her 123rd birthday was honored on the search engine’s homepage with a Google Doodle featuring an illustration of the author and a Florida swamp.
A central writer during the Harlem Renaissance along with Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman, all three of which formed The Niggerati, Zora published a total of four novels and over 50 short stories and essays.
Most criticized and maligned for her caricature-like portrayal of Southern African-American dialect in her novels, Zora’s work slid into obscurity for several decades.
Posthumously, she is lauded as “the most significant, most prolific Black woman writer of the first half of the 21st century.”
In 1960, she died of hypertensive heart disease and was buried at the Garden of Heavenly Rest in Fort Pierce, Florida. Her remains were in an unmarked grave until 1973, when novelist Alice Walker and literary scholar Charlotte Hunt marked one as hers.
Watch Alice Walker and Sonia Sanchez speak on their love and discovery of Zora’s work at NYC’s Green Space in 2012 below.
Also check out this very interesting history on Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston by historian Marc Primus, and one reason their play ‘Mule Bone’ was never finished and severed their friendship.
In 2005, Their Eyes Were Watching God was adapted for a film by Oprah‘s Harpo Productions, starring Halle Berry as Janie Starks.
The author’s hometown of Eatonville, Florida holds an annual festival in her honor. The next will take place January 25th through February 2nd. Get more details at zorafestival.org.