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Born into an educated free black family in Portland, Maine, Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins (1859 to 1930) was a pioneering playwright, journalist, novelist, feminist and public intellectual, best known for her 1900 novel "Contending Forces: A Romance of Negro Life North and South." In this critical biography, Lois Brown documents for the first time Hopkins' early family life and her ancestral connections to 18th century New England, the African slave trade and 20th century race activism in the North.
Brown includes detailed descriptions of Hopkins' earliest known performances as a singer and actress; textual analysis of her major and minor literary works; information about her most influential mentors, colleagues and professional affiliations; and details of her battles with Booker T. Washington, which ultimately led to her professional demise as a journalist.
Richly grounded in archival sources, Brown's work offers a definitive study that clarifies a number of inconsistencies in earlier writing about Hopkins. Brown recreates the life of a remarkable woman in the context of her times, revealing Hopkins as the descendant of a family comprising many distinguished individuals, an active participant and supporter of the arts, a woman of stature among professional peers and clubwomen, and a gracious and outspoken crusader for African American rights.
"Brown uses extensive archival research, including genealogical materials, to trace significant events in Hopkins' life and experiences of her ancestors and to clarify inconsistencies in earlier studies. . . . The definitive Hopkins biography."
"Includes not only excellent readings of her novels . . . but also much new information about Hopkins' ancestry and her later years. . . . Provides a solid base for future study. . . . Highly recommended."