Louisa Mae Alcott spurred writers such as Helen Hooven Santmeyer to become writers.
Mark Twain was my original inspiration. Twain was part of my education. I read his books before they were assigned. I think the humbleness of his origins as well as the earthiness of his writing related to me as a child. It had that ring of truth that resonated. The shrewdness and mischievousness of Tom Sawyer convincing other children to whitewash a fence for him. I wished I was that smart.
When Samuel Clemens autobiography became available 100 years after his death, I ordered it and paid full price. I've yet to seriously read it. You have to make time for what is important. He postponed publishing his biography until 100 years after his death in 1910. Mark Twain's birth and death are famous in that both coincided with Haley's comet 75 year cycle swinging by the Earth.
Samuel Clemens spent a great deal of time touring and writing to cover debts due losses from bad investments in the technology of the day. He had a strong and enduring friendship with Nicoli Tesla. A friend, Henry Rogers, began to manage Twain's money and Twain became solvent as a result.
Twain's views on society changed and became increasingly cynical as he aged. Becoming more aged, I can understand that too. Life was cheerier when I understood less or was too busy to notice.
Zora Neale Hurston wrote "And Their Eyes Were Watching God" in 8 days which is a remarkable feat when you look at the quality and merit of the book. One line that stood out to me was the comparison of a black woman having a white woman's hair like the string that bound a ham had ham qualities. The aspect of a woman's value with being attractive and that a black woman feeling like she had to look white to be attractive; two sides of a very ugly coin in our country's past and present.
Zora Neale Hurston was never paid in a comparable amount as her contemporaries. Hurston worked as a freelance writer, anthropologist and wrote short stories, plays. She was educated at Howard, Barnard and Columbia. During the later portion of her life, Thurston had to scrape by a living.
Her work was obscure in that her heavy use of dialect put some people off her folklore style. People living through difficult situations and a living history of that era is what appealed to me. Some of her opinions were not popular; but, considering the treatment of African Americans when she lived, criticism is a moot point. Hurston died in 1960 before the Civil Right's Movement brought significant changes for black Americans.
Hurston's work saw a revival in 1975, fifteen years after her death, due to writer Alice Walker writing an article in Ms. magazine. Walker identified Hurston's unmarked grave and had a marker placed with the words, "A Genius of the South" there.
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