Hurston, best known for her seminal novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” was born in Florida on Jan. 7, 1891, but she moved to New York in 1925 with only $1.50 to her name. She soon became friends with Langston Hughes and Dorothy West.
Carla Kaplan, a professor of American Literature at Northeastern University and author of “Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters,” said the author and anthropologist would be “so tickled” to be praised in such a modern way.
“She was a very private woman who loved publicity,” Kaplan said, adding that Hurston often found herself “wanting others to see that she had a glean or a shine.”
Hurston’s life in Harlem was often stranger than fiction – the scribe once “borrowed” money from a homeless beggar for a subway fare, claiming she needed the money “worse than you today.” She died in poverty in a Florida welfare center in 1960.
“She was always more interested in recognition than she was with money,” Kaplan said.