American Memory | The Zora Neale Hurston Plays
Zora Neale Hurston Chronology


[Portrait of Zora Neale Hurston].
Carl Van Vechten, photographer.
April 3, 1938.
Prints and Photographs Division,
Library of Congress.
Reproduction #: LC-USZ62-79898 DLC
1891
Born January 15, Notasulga, Alabama

1892
Family moves to Eatonville, Florida

1897
Father, John Hurston, elected mayor

1904
Mother, Lucy Potts, dies

1905
Father remarries
Leaves home, living largely in Jacksonville, Florida

 

1915
Moves to Memphis, Tennessee

1916
Works as a maid for Gilbert and Sullivan troupe

1917
Works as a waitress in Baltimore, Maryland, and enters Morgan Academy

 

1918
Graduates from Morgan Academy
Father dies
Enters Howard University in Washington, D.C.

 

1920
Receives associate degree from Howard University

Howard University. Building and courtyard at Howard University.
Theodor Horydczak, photographer.
circa 1920-circa 1950.
Theodor Horydczak Collection.
Prints and Photographs Division,
Library of Congress.
Reproduction#: LC-H814-T01-2189-001 DLC
1921
Publishes first short stories
 

1925
Moves to New York City, January
Registers play Meet the Mamma for copyright, July
Wins Opportunity magazine contest for short story, "Spunk," and play, "Color Struck"
Works for author Fannie Hurst
Enters Barnard College on scholarship

  [Portrait of Fannie Hurst].
Carl Van Vechten, photographer.
March 16, 1938.
Carl Van Vechten Photograph Collection.
Library of Congress.
 

1926
Studies with anthropologist Franz Boas at Columbia University

1927
Receives Carter Woodson Association fellowship
Goes south to collect folklore
Marries Herbert Sheen, May 19, St. Augustine, Florida
Acquires patronage of Charlotte Osgood Mason

 

1928
Separates from Sheen, January
Moves to Polk County, Florida, March
Receives Bachelor of Arts degree from Barnard College, May
Goes to New Orleans to collect hoodoo folklore

 

1929
Revises folklore manuscript in Florida

1930
Does fieldwork in the Bahamas, January-February
In New York City, New Jersey and the South
Collaborates with Langston Hughes on their play Mule-Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life
Registers her revue, Cold Keener, and her own version of the Mule Bone story, De Turkey and de Law, a Comedy in Three Acts, for copyright, October.

  Portrait of Langston Hughes.
Gordon Parks, photographer. 1943.
Farm Security Administration -
Office of War Information Photograph Collection.
Prints and Photographs Division,
Library of Congress.
Reproduction #: LC-USW3-033841-C DLC
 
 

1931
Mule-Bone, by Hurston and Hughes, registered for copyright, January
Registers four sketches, "Forty Yards," "Lawing and Jawing," "Poker!," and "Woofing," for copyright, July
Attempts at various Broadway productions

1932
Brief New York productions of her play, The Great Day, are a critical success but financial failure.

1933
Revises The Great Day and produces it in Florida venues as From Sun to Sun

1934
Novel, Jonah's Gourd Vine, published, May

  Alan Lomax--Authority on American folk-lore ...
[between 1940 and 1945].
Prints and Photographs Division,
Library of Congress.
Reproduction #: LC-USZ62-121915
 

1935
Lives and writes in Florida and New York
Registers three-act play, Spunk, for copyright, June
Goes South with Alan Lomax and Mary Barnicle to collect folk music for the Library of Congress
Joins Harlem unit of Federal Theater Project (WPA)
Publishes Mules and Men, October

1936
Awarded Guggenheim fellowship, March
Travels in Jamaica and Haiti

 

1937
Publishes Their Eyes Were Watching God, September, written in seven weeks the previous December

1938
Joins Federal Writers' Project (WPA), collecting Florida folklore
Comes to Washington, D.C. in the spring
Starts field work with anthropologist Jane Belo
Publishes Tell My Horse, October

  Zora Neale Hurston smoking,
Cross City turpentine camp
, ca. 1939.

Photograph by Stetson Kennedy,
Stetson Kennedy Papers, reproduced
with permission.
Digital restoration by Ivy Bigbee.
 

1939
Travels to Orlando for a production, to Cincinnati for radio series, to Durham to teach at North Carolina College for Negroes
Collects Florida folk songs for Library of Congress and WPA
Brief marriage to Albert Price III, Jacksonville
Meets with Paul Green and Carolina Players
Moses, Man of the Mountain published, November

1940
Goes to Beaufort, South Carolina, to work on a Jane Belo research project
Returns to New York City

 
  1941
Moves to Los Angeles and serves as consultant at Paramount Pictures
 

1942
Lecture tours
Moves to St. Augustine
Collects Florida and Seminole folklore
Publishes autobiography Dust Tracks On a Road, November

 

1943
Lives in Daytona Beach
Autobiography receives Anisfield-Wolf award for best book in race relations and Howard University's Distinguished Alumni Award
Divorce from Price final, November

1944
Marries James Howell Pitts of Cleveland, January, and divorces, October Collaborates in New York with Dorothy Waring on musical comedy script, Polk County, registered for copyright, December

 

1945
Plans for a trip to Honduras
Return of stomach ailments

1946
Research trip on a shrimping boat
In New York works to oppose congressional campaign of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

 

1947
Research and writing in Honduras

1948
Returning to New York, is falsely accused of molesting a young boy, suffering bad publicity in the Black press
Seraph On the Suwanee published to good reviews

 

1949
Legal case against her is dismissed
Travels to the Bahamas

1950
Takes job briefly as a maid in Miami, Florida
Lives in New York and then Belle Glade, Florida

 
 
1951
Publishes political articles and reviews books
 

1952
Writes journalism
Experiences health problems

1955
Her long-researched book on Herod the Great is rejected
Writes opposing Brown v Board of Education Supreme Court decision on segregation, resulting in unpopularity

1956
Works as librarian at Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach, Florida

 

1957
Moves to Fort Pierce and publishes articles

1958
Substitute teaches at Lincoln Park Academy, a black school near Fort Pierce Health deteriorates

1959
Suffers strokes
Applies for welfare
Enters St. Lucie County Welfare Home, October

1960
Dies January 28
Buried in Garden of Heavenly Rest in an unmarked grave (marked by Alice Walker, 1973)


[Adapted from Carla Kaplan, ed., Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters. New York: Doubleday, 2002]
American Memory | The Zora Neale Hurston Plays