Larsen, Nella, 1891-1964

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Nella Larsen, Harlem Renaissance writer, librarian and nurse.

She was born in Chicago in 1893 to a white Danish mother and a black West Indian father. Two years later, after her father died, her mother married a Dane. Educated in Chicago, at sixteen Larsen travelled to Denmark and remained for three years. After a year of study at Fisk University, she attented the University of Copenhagen, and later returned to the United States where she graduated from the Lincoln Hospital Training Program in New York (1915). Larsen married Elmer S. Imes, an African American physicist in 1919, and became associated with the cultural awakening in Harlem, known as the Harlem Renaissance. From 1921-1926 she worked as a children's librarian at the 135 Street Branch of the New York Public Library.

Larsen's first short story was published in 1926, and her two novels quickly followed: "Quicksand" (1928) and "Passing" (1929). The following year she became the first African American woman to win a Guggenheim award for creative writing. Her books are autobiographical in nature, dealing with identity and marginality and explore the consciousness and psychology of female character. An unsubstantiated charge of plagiarism and her divorce in 1933 ended Larsen's career as one of the Harlem Renaissance's major novelists. Her nursing career began in 1941 and she worked as a nurse in several hospitals in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Larsen died in relative obscurity in 1964.

From the description of Nella Larsen Letters, 1928. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122517298

Nella Larsen, Harlem Renaissance writer, librarian and nurse. She was born in Chicago in 1893 to a white Danish mother and a black West Indian father. Two years later, after her father died, her mother married a Dane. Educated in Chicago, at sixteen Larsen travelled to Denmark and remained for three years. After a year of study at Fisk University, she attented the University of Copenhagen, and later returned to the United States where she graduated from the Lincoln Hospital Training Program in New York (1915). Larsen married Elmer S. Imes, an African American physicist in 1919, and became associated with the cultural awakening in Harlem, known as the Harlem Renaissance. From 1921-1926 she worked as a children's librarian at the 135 Street Branch of the New York Public Library.

Larsen's first short story was published in 1926, and her two novels quickly followed: "Quicksand" (1928) and "Passing" (1929). The following year she became the first African American woman to win a Guggenheim award for creative writing. Her books are autobiographical in nature, dealing with identity and marginality and explore the consciousness and psychology of female character. An unsubstantiated charge of plagiarism and her divorce in 1933 ended Larsen's career as one of the Harlem Renaissance's major novelists. Her nursing career began in 1941 and she worked as a nurse in several hospitals in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Larsen died in relative obscurity in 1964.

From the guide to the Nella Larsen Letters, 1928, (The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn James Weldon Johnson and Grace Nail Johnson papers, circa 1850-2005, 1900-1976 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Nella Larsen Letters, 1928 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938. James Weldon Johnson and Grace Nail Johnson papers, circa 1850-2005 (bulk 1900-1976). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Braithwaite, William Stanley, 1878-1962. William Stanley Braithwaite collection, 1899-1939. Morgan State University
referencedIn Peterson, Dorothy. Dorothy Peterson collection, 1919-1966. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Dorothy Peterson collection, 1919-1966 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Peterson, Dorothy. Dorothy Peterson collection, 1919-1966. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Larsen, Nella. Nella Larsen Letters, 1928. New York Public Library System, NYPL
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Braithwaite, William Stanley, 1878-1962. person
associatedWith Cullen, Countee, 1903-1946 person
associatedWith Cullen, Countee, 1903-1946. person
associatedWith DuBois, Yolande person
associatedWith DuBois, Yolande. person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Fisk University corporateBody
spouseOf Imes, Elmer Samuel, 1883-1941 person
associatedWith Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938 person
associatedWith Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938. person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Lincoln Hospital (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith New York public library corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf New York Public Library. Library School corporateBody
associatedWith Peterson, Dorothy. person
associatedWith Peterson, Dorothy. person
employeeOf Tuskegee Institute corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States 00 US
Chicago IL US
New York NY US
Subject
Afro--American authors
African American authors
Occupation
Nurses
Librarians
Novelists
Function

Person

Birth 1891-04-13

Death 1964-03-30

Americans

English

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