Black American Women Poets and Dramatists

By Harold Bloom | Go to book overview
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Georgia Douglas Johnson
1886-1966

GEORGIA DOUGLAS CAMP JOHNSON was born on September 10, 1886, to George and Laura Jackson Camp in Atlanta, Georgia. Johnson attended public schools in Atlanta and went on to Atlanta University. She later attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio. She married Henry Lincoln Johnson in 1903. They had two sons, Henry Lincoln, Jr., and Peter Douglas.

Johnson was capable of great periods of creativity, and her interests were as varied as her efforts were concentrated. As early as 1905 her poetry appeared in the Voice of the Negro and later in the Crisis and other periodicals. Her first book, The Heart of a Woman, did not appear until 1918. She was characterized by critics as a black feminist poet, although her early poems do not focus on themes of race or politics. She was essentially of the genteel school and much overshadowed by Sara Teasdale. Her poems, like Teasdale's, are generally conventional in form, romantic in tone, and short in length.

Johnson's second volume of poetry, Bronze, was published in 1922. These poems are marked by a clear development of racial consciousness and a focus on black history. By the time Bronze was published, Johnson had fallen in with a circle of black notables, such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Countee Cullen, Sterling Brown, Benjamin Brawley, James Weldon Johnson, and others. This volume was more widely read and more favorably reviewed than her first. When Johnson's husband died in 1925, she took on greater financial responsibilities, but her literary career was not dramatically affected. Both of her sons were attending Dartmouth and her literary gatherings were still growing in number. In 1927 Johnson won the Opportunity prize for her one‐ act play Plumes and in the same year produced her drama Blue Blood in New York.

Johnson's third collection of poetry, An Autumn Love Cycle, was published in 1928. It represents something of a departure from Bronze. The author returns to her earlier themes of love and loss. During the depression, however, Johnson focused primarily on the writing of drama that addressed racial and

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