W.E.B. Du Bois: An Encyclopedia

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FAUSET, JESSIE REDMON (1882–1961)

Fauset's main connection with Du Bois was through her work on The Crisis magazine. This journal was started by Du Bois and served as the organ of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Fauset was the only person to hold the editor position formally. She became the literary editor of The Crisis in 1919 when the magazine was expanding its staff because it was at the high point of its circulation. Before Fauset became the editor, Du Bois appears to have maintained as strong an influence on the literary role of the magazine as he did on its editorial policy. The early Crisis announced its basic artistic criteria as literature set in black life but not so directly propagandists that it ignored the principles of art.

During her tenure as literary editor of The Crisis (1919–1926), Fauset published many of the early voices of the Harlem Renaissance, including Jean Toomer, George Schuyler, Langs ton Hughes, and Claude McKay. She supported the works of the young writers, even if their direction ran counter to her own, and she was a prolific Harlem Renaissance novelist herself. Fauset wrote the following four books in less than ten years: There Is Confusion (1924), Plum Bun (1928), The Chinaberry Tree (1931), and Comedy American Style (1933).

In contrast with many writers of the Harlem School who portrayed the stark realities of inner-city life, Fauset, who came from a prominent Philadelphia family, dealt with the problems of the African American middle class. When Fauset resigned from The Crisis in 1926, Du Bois, the principal literary spirit of the journal, assumed the editorial responsibilities again. See also: Art and Literature; The Crisis; Cullen, Countee; Harlem Renaissance; McKay, Claude.

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