A Woman to Know: Pauline Hopkins
|Julia Carpenter||Dec 11, 2015|
Fiction is of great value to any people ... it is a record of growth from generation to generation.— Pauline
(From the intro page of Pauline Hopkin's Contending Forces, 1900)
Pauline wrote these great (and successful) novels — beautiful ruminations on love and life, packed with stellar characters and gripping plot twists. She dabbled in multiple genres: mystery and romance and bildungsroman. She authored a musical play about the Underground Railroad (and it was a hit!). She was renowned for her ability to write across all genres, in all styles – but her novels were more than just beach reads. She wrote them as a vehicle for the themes nearest to her conscience: this, she writes, is what life is like in a changing America, one that struggles with race, class and basic decency. In many ways, her works are timeless.
Her most famous work, Contending Forces, is a mystery story set on two Northern plantations. Within the plot she explores contemporary gender politics, passing privilege and racial tension in the post-Civil War North. "I have tried to tell an impartial story," she wrote in the preface. "I will leave it to the reader to draw conclusions."
Add to your reading list:
The Magazine Novels (Pauline Hopkins)
Of One Blood, or the Hidden Self (Pauline Hopkins)
Voices from the Gaps (Carol Miller)
Pauline E. Hopkins (Black History Now)
Contending Forces (Internet Archive)
Pauline Hopkins (Perspectives in American Literature)
Thank you to Megan Neary for recommending today's woman to know! Megan is one of my dearest friends, and her thesis (on historical women travelers!) is a wonderful read. I love her very much. <3
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