Exploring Florida’s Literary Heritage

Rawlings and Hurston met in the 1940s. Both powerful female writers, one white, one black, and they developed a deep friendship.

Exploring Florida's Literary HeritageMouth of Amelia invites you to Exploring Florida’s Literary Heritage presented by Amelia Island Book Festival, Amelia Island Museum of History and the Florida Humanities Council, Sunday, February 19, 2012 from 2:00 to 3:30 PM, at the Amelia Island Museum of History, 233 S. Third Street, in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

This event will feature a panel discussion of Florida authors, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Zora Neale Hurston.

Rawlings and Hurston first met in St. Augustine, FL in the early 1940s. Both were powerful female writers, one white, one black, decidedly different backgrounds, but, nevertheless, they developed a deep and lasting friendship based on their respect for each other and shared literary professions.

Rawlings’s Pulitzer Prize winning book The Yearling had made her very famous at that time, and allowed her to purchase beach property near St. Augustine. This was not far from the 72 acre orange grove at Cross Creek she acquired in 1928, where she had written her other iconic novel Cross Creek in that wilderness retreat.

Hurston was Alabama born but Florida raised, calling Eatonville home, though she spent some time in Jacksonville in her early school days. She was the only black student at Barnard College, graduated with a BA in Anthropology, and spent two years at Columbia University in the same field. In the 1930s she established a school of dramatic arts at then Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach. By the time these two fascinating women met, Hurston had published and received critical acclaim for Their Eyes Were Watching God.

The panelists are:

Dr. Anna Lillios, the Executive Director of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society and author of Crossing the Creek, a book that details the relationship between Rawlings and Hurston.

Marsha Dean Phelts, the author of An American Beach for African Americans, the only complete history of Florida’s first exclusive beach resort for African Americans.

Dr. Kathryn Seidel, Professor of English at the University of Central Florida, and published in the areas of women writers and literature of the American South.

Virginia Lynn Moylan, author, educator and co-founder of Zora Fest in Ft. Pierce, FL, and author of Zora Neale Hurston’s Final Decade.

The moderator will be Fernandina Beach attorney Teresa J. Sopp, JD, who is also a Trustee of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society.

The program is free and open to the public. However, due to space limitations, reservations are required. Please call 904-624-1665 to reserve a seat or for further information.

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