Author Zora Neale Hurston was born on 7th January 1891 in Alabama but in 1894 moved with her family to Eatonville, Florida. This town in Orange County has since become the setting of many of her books and there is even a Zora! Festival of the Arts and Humanities, started in 1990 in her honour and still held even 128 years after her birth.
It is not surprising that the town of Eatonville would want to honour such an influential writer who has written four novels and had over 50 short stories, plays and essays published, the most popular being her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston conducted anthropological and ethnographic research during her time at Barnard College, research which is evident in her African-American literature, that portrays racial struggles prominent in the 20th Century American South. She also conducted research into Haitian Voodoo, participating in the ritual, rather than just observing, this personal experience was published in her book Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica.
Sadly, Hurston’s work went mostly unrecognised until 1975, 15 years after her death, when author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning epistolary novel The Color Purple, Alice Walker published ‘In Search of Zora Neale Hurston’ in an issue of Ms. Magazine.
A clear admirer of Huston’s writing, when her non-fiction book, Barracoon, was published posthumously in 2018, Alice Walker stated “Zora Neale Hurston’s genius has once again produced a Maestrapiece.” Barracoon, tells the story of Cudjo Lewis, one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade, whom Hurston first interviewed in 1927, before spending a further three months talking through his life in detail in 1931. These memories and horrific injustices now fill the pages of Hurston’s most recently published book.
On 28th January 1960, Zora Neale Hurston sadly died of hypertensive heart disease and was buried in a grave (unmarked until 1973) at the Garden of Heavenly Rest in Fort Pierce, Florida. In her 1975 article, Walker wrote, “It was impossible for me to cry when I saw the field full of weeds where Zora is. Partly this is because I have come to know Zora through her books and she was not a teary sort of person herself; but partly too, it is because there is a point at which even grief feels absurd. And at this point, laughter gushes up to retrieve sanity.”
Jazmin Truesdale has been a proud nerd all her life, loving comic books, science fiction, and action movies, but always looking for some positive representation within those entertainment spheres. As one may imagine the worlds of graphic novels and comic books are very straight-white-male-centric, with shallow female characters. and few depictions of non-white women.
Jazmin, with her entrepreneurial mind and passion for cultural diversity, began creating characters she would want to read about and, with the help from an illustrator, her universe was born. It has not been an easy journey- finding an illustrator who knew how to draw Black women’s bodies was one particular hurdle to overcome, however Jazmin’s drive and focus ensured her goal became a reality.
The author, who has sold more than 70 million books during her career claims that her husband, Lawrence Kenyon was lacing her food with poison from 2014 until they split last year. She says the poison left her with clumps of hair falling out, crumbling teeth, tremors and back pain, all unexplained by doctors until tests showed unusually high levels of lithium in her blood.
She claims her husband was helped by his assistant Kerrie Ann Plump and her IT specialist Paco Cavanaugh to carry on the scheme and says that her husband laced her food while Cavanaugh siphoned hundreds of thousands off her bank accounts.
Born Susan Rosenblatt in New York City to Jewish parents of Lithuanian and Polish descent. When Susan was five years old her father died and several years later her mother married a US Army Captain, Nathan Sontag, giving Susan the name we remember her by. Despite being raised by Jewish parents, Sontag stated that she did not have a religious upbringing and was in her 20s before she entered a synagogue.
Before he created the writer-persona of Dr Seuss, Geisel was an artist of another kind. In his spare time he created sculptures of interesting and strange creatures, using parts of real animals. Of course it is not as grotesque as it sounds- the animal parts were given to Theodor after the animals died of natural causes. His father was the superintendent of parks in Massachusetts at the time when a young Geisel was working as a fledgling author and illustrator. When zoo and park animals crossed the rainbow bridge, Geisel’s father sent him the various animals’ parts to help him create some whacky characters.
Horns, antlers, beaks, and all sorts were used by Geisel to build some of the most fantastical animals that, unsurprisingly, look like they have jumped straight out of a Dr Seuss picture book.
The author of And We’re Off, and memoir Choose Your Own Disaster, offered to stand at the back of a funeral with a massive black umbrella, looking mysterious. For a small fee, of course.
Fellow authors and humorists of Twitter, including our favourite Neil Gaiman, got involved to either take her up on the offer or to join the enterprise. A surprising amount of people were up for it, prompting Schwartz to promote her latest book in place of Venmo donations.
Born in Kentucky to parents Sallie Caldwell and Samuel Hegan, Alice was drawn to creative pursuits from childhood and loved drawing and writing poetry and short stories. Alice spent much of her career advocating for the rights of the underprivileged. She lived most of her life in Louisville, which is where she met her husband, Cale Young Rice who was also an author, dramatist and poet.