White Women in Harlem’s Renaissance
The New York Times - 09/20/2013
Carla Kaplan, a professor of American literature at Northeastern University, offers a joint biography of six largely forgotten women (winnowed down from five dozen whom she researched) in “Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance” (Harper, $28.99).
The convention-bending women included philanthropists, educators, heiresses and novelists who figured in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s as patrons, muses and editors and in assorted other roles that Professor Kaplan, a biographer of the writer Zora Neale Hurston, captivatingly illuminates and places in overdue perspective.
“We have documented every other imaginable form of female identity in the Jazz Age — the New Woman, the spinster, the flapper, the Gibson Girl, the bachelor girl, the bohemian, the twenties ‘mannish’ lesbian, the suffragist, the invert and so on,” she writes. “But until now, the full story of the white women of black Harlem, the women collectively referred to as ‘Miss Anne,’ has never been told.”