Emma Dunham Kelley-Hawkins

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Emma Dunham Kelley from the frontispiece of Megda 1891.

Emma Dunham Kelley-Hawkins (November 11, 1863 – October 22, 1938) was an American writer, and author of the novel Four Girls At Cottage City (1895). An earlier novel, Megda (1891) was published under her maiden name of Emma Dunham Kelley and the pseudonym "Forget-me-not."


The author was long considered a pioneer of African-American women's literature. Her novel was rediscovered by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and served as an inspiration for him to compile the 40-volume Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers in 1988. While many African American writers dealt explicitly with issues of race, Kelley-Hawkins's work did not treat themes of racial uplift. This treatment is similar to fiction by other black authors of the period, including selected work by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Frank J. Webb, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Amelia E. Johnson, for example. Kelley-Hawkins did, however, deal with African-American reform issues.

Recent genealogical research indicates that Kelley-Hawkins was, in fact, white or identified herself as white. (National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 94, No. 1, March 2006)



  • Harris, Jennifer. "Black like?: The strange case of Emma Dunham Kelley-Hawkins." African American Review, Fall, 2006.
  • Shockley, Ann Allen. Afro-American Women Writers 1746-1933: An Anthology and Critical Guide, New Haven, Connecticut: Meridian Books, 1989. ISBN 0-452-00981-2
  • Gates, Jr., Henry Louis (1988). The Schomburg library of nineteenth-century Black women writers. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-505267-1. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
  • Flynn, Katherine. 'Emma Dunham Kelley-Hawkins: 1863-1938.' "Legacy" 23, November 2007.

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