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Zora Neale Hurston: renowned author and folklorist

Zora Neale Hurston is best remembered today for her novel 'Their Eyes Were Watching God.' But Zora Neale Hurston wrote many other works, including fiction and anthropological studies.

By Staff Writer / January 7, 2014

Zora Neale Hurston's novel 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' was adapted into a TV movie starring Halle Berry (l.) and Ruby Dee (r.).

Vivian Zink/ABC

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Author Zora Neale Hurston may be best known for her novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” but she also penned works in other genres, including plays and short stories, and worked as a noted anthropologist and studier of folklore.

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Hurston was born in 1891 in Alabama and grew up in the town of Eatonville, Fla., an all-black town. After attending local and boarding schools for some years, Hurston worked at various jobs, including as a maid to the star of a Gilbert and Sullivan touring group. She finished high school in Baltimore at Morgan College, the high school section of Morgan State University, at the age of 26 by claiming she was 16. She graduated from the school in 1918. She then attended Howard University in Washington, D.C and later transferred to Barnard College in New York.

The author became one of the key members of the Harlem Renaissance. Best-remembered for her novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” which was released in 1937, Hurston also published the novels “Moses, Man of the Mountain,” “Seraph on the Suwanee,” and “Jonah’s Gourd Vine.” Hurston also wrote the work “Mules and Men” after she went back to Eatonville and recorded the songs and stories told by the town’s residents. She wrote “Tell My Horse” after she traveled to the Caribbean to examine the voodoo practices of some of its residents. Hurston had received a Guggenheim Fellowship to study this subject.

Hurston is also the author of various short stories, an autobiography titled "Dust Tracks on a Road," and works such as “Mule Bone,” a play that she co-wrote with Harlem Renaissance poet and playwright Langston Hughes.

"Their Eyes Were Watching God” was adapted into a 2005 TV movie starring “Cloud Atlas” actress Halle Berry, “Last Vegas” actor Michael Ealy, and Terrence Howard of “The Best Man Holiday” as well as actress Ruby Dee. The film earned Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for Berry.

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