Born into an educated free black family in Portland, Maine, Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins (1859-1930) was a pioneering playwright, journalist, velist, feminist, and public intellectual, best kwn for her 1900 vel Contending Forces: A Romance of Negro Life North and South. In this critical biography, Lois Brown documents for the first time Hopkins's early family life and her ancestral connections to eighteenth-century New England, the African slave trade, and twentieth-century race activism in the North. Brown includes detailed descriptions of Hopkins's earliest kwn performances as a singer and actress; textual analysis of her major and mir literary works; information about her most influential mentors, colleagues, and professional affiliations; and details of her battles with Booker T. Washington, which ultimately led to her professional demise as a journalist. Richly grounded in archival sources, Brown's work offers a definitive study that clarifies a number of inconsistencies in earlier writing about Hopkins. Brown re-creates the life of a remarkable woman in the context of her times, revealing Hopkins as the descendant of a family comprising many distinguished individuals, an active participant and supporter of the arts, a woman of stature among professional peers and clubwomen, and a gracious and outspoken crusader for African American rights.
Lois Brown is associate professor of English and director of the Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts at Mount Holyoke College. She is editor of Memoir of James Jackson, The Obedient Scholar Who Died in Boston, October 31, 1833, Aged Six Years and Eleven Months by His Teacher, Miss Susan Paul.