Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960) was an African-American novelist, short story writer, folklorist, and anthropologist known for her contributions to African-American literature, her portrayal of racial struggles in the American South, and works documenting her research on Haitian voodoo. Of Hurston's four novels and more than 50 published short stories, plays, and essays, she is best known for her 1937 novel ''Their Eyes Were Watching God''.
Hurston was born in Notasulga, Alabama and moved to Eatonville with her family in 1894. Eatonville would become the setting for many of her stories and is now the site of the Zora! Festival, held each year in Hurston's honor. In her early career, Hurston conducted anthropological and ethnographic research while attending Barnard College. While in New York she became a central figure of the Harlem Renaissance. Her short satires, drawing from the African-American experience and racial division, were published in anthologies such as ''The New Negro'' and ''Fire!!.'' After moving back to Florida, Hurston published her literary anthropology on African-American folklore in North Florida, ''Mules and Men'' (1935) and her first three novels: ''Jonah's Gourd Vine'' (1934); ''Their Eyes Were Watching God'' (1937); and ''Moses, Man of the Mountain'' (1939). Also published during this time was ''Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica'' (1938), documenting her research on rituals in Jamaica and Haiti.
Although her works touched on the African-American experience and her struggles as an African-American woman, Hurston's novels went relatively unrecognized by the literary world for decades. After Hurston's death in 1960, author Alice Walker marked her grave with a plaque that reads: "Zora Neale Hurston: A Genius of the South."
In addition to new editions of her work being published after a revival of interest in her in 1975, her manuscript ''Every Tongue Got to Confess'' (2001), a collection of folktales gathered in the 1920s, was published posthumously after being discovered in the Smithsonian archives.