Zora Neale Hurston, celebrated Tuesday in a Google Doodle, died in 1960 in a welfare home after giving the world some of its greatest literature. Although her greatest renown came after death, in life the African American novelist and anthropologist was a dazzler.
She grew up in America's first all-black incorporated town, Eatonville, Fla., from which she drew in her fiction. Today, the small city proudly proclaims it was "authenticated by the works of Zora Neale Hurston, a writer, anthropologist, a black woman."
Hurston's schoolteacher mother was an inspiration to her, pushing her to "jump at de sun." After her mother died and her preacher father remarried, she left home at 14, putting herself through school at Morgan Academy in Baltimore and Howard University in Washington, D.C., working at various jobs including manicurist and maid.