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Fauset

Gwendolyn Bennett
“The Pipes of Pan”
The Crisis
March 1924

 

 

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Novelist and editor Jessie Redmon Fauset was born near Philadelphia and was raised in a middle-class community that abided by such strict social codes that some said it “did not permit its women to breathe in public.”1 Much of Fauset’s writing explores this elite segment of the African-American population—though some white critics of the period questioned whether this high society even existed. By the time she arrived in Harlem in 1919, the twenty-eight year old Fauset had earned a bachelor’s degree (and a Phi Beta Kappa key) at Cornell University, studied French and Latin at the Sorbonne in Paris, and received a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In New York, Fauset was to become a well-known figure in Harlem’s literary scene and one of its most influential editors. Working first as W. E. B. DuBois’s assistant at the NAACP, Fauset soon became the literary editor of The Crisis. Under her direction, The Crisis was a shaping force in the literature of the Harlem Renaissance. She was a visionary editor, regularly printing the work of young and never before published writers including Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Claude McKay, and Countee Cullen. Though she has been categorized as a “minor” writer herself, as the author of four novels she was published more during her lifetime than most of her peers in Harlem’s literary community.

1 Carole Marks and Diana Edkins, The Power of Pride, NY: Crown Publishers, 1999, p. 136.

 

 

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