ANN PETRY was bom Ann Lane on October 12, 1912, in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.Her father was a pharmacist who operated his own drugstore, so that the Lanes were generally accepted by the white population of Old Saybrook in spite of the fact that they were only one of two black families in the small town. Several other members of Ann's family were also pharmacists. Ann began writing stories and poems while at Old Saybrook High School, from which she graduated in 1929; she then decided to pursue the family career by attending the College of Pharmacy of the University of Connecticut.She received a Ph.G. degree in 1931 and worked for seven years at her family's pharmacies in Old Saybrook and Lyme.
In 1938 Ann married the mystery writer George D. Petry; they have one daughter. Petry moved to Harlem, writing advertising copy for the Amsterdam News from 1938 to 1941 and being a reporter for the People's Voice from 1941 to 1946 while writing short stories in her spare time. Her first published story was " Marie of the Cabin Club," appearing in the Afro-American for August 19, 1939, under the pseudonym Arnold Petri.In 1943 she enrolled in a writing course at Columbia University; shortly thereafter, she was publishing stories in the Crisis, Opportunity, Phylon, and other journals. Petry's nonliterary life was also busy, as she formed a political group, Negro Women, Inc., lent assistance to a Harlem elementary school, and acted in an American Negro Theater production.
One of Petry's stories, " On Saturday the Siren Sounds at Noon," came to the attention of Houghton Mifflin, which invited her to apply for one of its literary fellowships. The synopsis and first five chapters of what would become Petry's first novel, The Street, won her the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. The novel was published in 1946 and received highly favorable reviews as a sensitive portrayal of a black woman's life in Harlem.The next year she published Country Place, a novel about small-town life in Connecticut; although all the major characters are white, Petry draws heavily upon her early life in Old Saybrook for many social and topographical