Nella Larsen

Nella Larsen was born on 13th April 1891.

Nellallitea ‘Nella’ Larsen was an American writer. Although she only published two novels, she was seen as a significant contributor to what was called ‘The Harlem Renaissance’.

Before she became known for her writing Nella first trained as a nurse, before later becoming a librarian. She was the first black woman to graduate from the New York Public Library school. She soon went to work in the Harlem branch of the library, which is where she met and was inspired by other artists & writers in the Harlem Renaissance.

Her first novel, Quicksand was published in 1928, followed by her second Passing in 1929. Some parts of her books are thought to reflect her own life, and explore ideas around racial identity.

Nella was the first black woman to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship, which are awarded to those “who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.”

She never published another novel, and eventually returned to nursing.

Find out more…

You can buy and read Nella Larsen’s novels, as well as collections of short stories she wrote:

These websites give you more detail about Nella Larsen’s life & works:

Find out more about the Harlem Renaissance here:


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