Daughter of the Revolution: The Major Nonfiction Works of Pauline E. Hopkins

By Pauline E. Hopkins; Ira Dworkin | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

Pauline E. Hopkins is most remembered for her first novel, Contending Forces: A Romance Illustrative of Negro Life North and South, which was published in Boston in 1900. Her publisher, the Colored Co-operative Publishing Company, vigorously used its monthly Colored American Magazine to promote it, and she soon became the magazine's most recognizable personality. Through its pages, which, in its first four years of publication, featured three of her serial novels and seven of her short stories, Hopkins emerged as a major literary figure whose prodigious output makes her one of the most published African American women writers of fiction prior to the 1920s.

Today, her reputation stands primarily on the quality of her fiction, which has been widely available since the late 1980s. Building on black feminist scholarship and publications by Ann Allen Shockley, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mary Helen Washington, Claudia Tate, and Hazel Carby, among others, Oxford University Press's Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers reprinted all of her fiction from the Colored American Magazine in three volumes: Contending Forces, The Magazine Novels of Pauline Hopkins, and Short Fiction by Black Women, 1900–1920, which includes her stories. Other editions have followed. During the past two decades, Hopkins has quickly become recognized as one the most accomplished African American novelists of the period and is a mainstay in college classrooms, dissertations, academic journals, and scholarly monographs. In 1996, The Unruly Voice: Rediscovering Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins, edited by John Cullen Gruesser, showcased a range of new critical work and provided bibliographies of primary and secondary materials. A new literary biography by Hanna Wallinger (Pauline E. Hopkins: A Literary Biography, University of Georgia Press, 2005) and other forthcoming studies promise to open new doors on the whole of her career and life, and to ensure that this interest continues.

While readers of Hopkins's fiction may be peripherally aware of her career as an editor and essayist, the writings themselves have long been unavailable and remain largely unfamiliar despite occasional excerpts in anthologies such as the Norton Anthology of African American Literature and Gerald Early's notable inclusion of The Dark Races of the Twentieth Century in the now outof-print second volume of Speech and Power: The African American Essay and Its Cultural Content from Polemics to Pulpit. While the current scarcity of her nonfiction contrasts with the widespread availability of her fiction, in a prospectus for 1901 the Colored American Magazine gave top billing to her nonfiction series Famous Men of the Negro Race.1 This nonfiction voice, which was so central to the Colored American Magazine, is collected for the first time in this anthology.

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