Zora Neale Hurston
All About Zora
Born in Alabama in 1891, Hurston moved to Eatonville when she was still a toddler, and is arguably the most famous person from the town. She is well known who writing many books and poems.
Hurston grew up in the town and had an enormous respect for the many men, including her father, who had written the town laws. She could be described as a woman who knew who she was; she wrote and spoke her mind. Although she moved to Jacksonville, Florida when she was 9, Eatonville was still very much her home.
After she attended high school in Baltimore Maryland, she went to Howard University in Washington, D.C. to study in English and received her Associates Degree in 1920. Five years later she moved to New York City to pursue her career as a writer.
She acquired a reputation instantly for her high spirit and tales of Eatonville life. She employed a wide variety of storytelling techniques that she learned from the general store porch. Joe Clarke was the store owner in Eatonville and many men of the community would gather there to share stories, or lies.
Hurston’s writings engulf readers with her traditional superstitions from the black subculture she grew up with, some of which were very unique and interesting. In one instance, she writes about her mother’s death. “Near death Lucy (her mother) called Zora into the room and gave her solemn instructions that no one was to take a pillow from under her head as she was dying, and neither the clock nor the looking glass in the room was to be covered with cloth.”
Eatonville, like many other rural communities, believed that a person’s dying hard was a bad sign, since the spirit might haunt the survivors; everything must be done to alleviate suffering. It was understood that a pillow under one’s head prolonged the dying, and that the looking glass should be covered because a reflection of the corpse might attach itself to the mirror. One covered the clock because it would be forever ruined if it was functioning when time ran out and the spirit looked upon the clock’s face.
Hurston wrote many books, most of which are still very popular today, and her first novel was published in 1934.
Here is a list of some of her works:
- Novels and Stories
- Their Eyes Were Watching God
- Dust Tracks On The Road
- Jonah’s Gourd Vine
- Moses, Man of the Mountain
- Seraph on the Suwanee
- Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica
- Complete Stories
- I Love Myself when I Am Laughing…and Then Again when I Am Looking Me
- Folklore, Memoirs, and Other Writings
Honoring Eatonville’s Biggest Celebrity
Hurston is without a doubt Eatonville biggest celebrity, and she has her own festival to show for it.
The Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities is held each January in Eatonville. It celebrates the life of the famous artist and showcases cultural arts events among many other things.