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About the Author
Nella Larsen, one of the most acclaimed and influential writers of the Harlem Renaissance, was born Nellie Walker in Chicago on April 13, 1891. Her father was mixed-race, her mother was a Danish immigrant, and she struggled to find a community to which to belong. After working for some years as a nurse, primarily in the Bronx, Larsen became the first black woman to graduate from the New York Public Library School and worked in various branches before landing in Harlem, the center of African-American culture. She became active in Harlem's artistic community and wrote her first novel, Quicksand, published in 1928. A critical though not financial success, it was awarded a Bronze Medal by the Harmon Foundation in recognition of Distinguished Achievement Among Negroes in Literature. Her second novel, Passing, came out the following year. Larsen was the first African-American woman to receive the Guggenheim Fellowship for creative writing. Due to personal and professional struggles following a highly publicized divorce, Larsen had stopped writing by the end of the 1930s. She resumed work as a nurse until her death in 1964. Born and raised in Southern California, Brit Bennett graduated from Stanford University and later earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan. Her debut novel The Mothers was a New York Times bestseller, and her second novel The Vanishing Half was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. She is a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and in 2021, she was chosen as one of Time's Next 100 Influential People. Her essays have been featured in The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel.