Paule Marshall

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Paule Marshall (born April 9, 1929)[1] is an American author, whose novels "emphasize the need for black Americans to reclaim their African heritage".[2]

Life and career[edit]

She was born Valenza Pauline Burke[3] in Brooklyn to Barbadian parents who had migrated to New York in 1919.[4] She educated at Girls High School, Brooklyn College (1953) and Hunter College, New York (1955).[5] In 1950 she married psychologist Kenneth Marshall; they divorced in 1963. In the 1970s she married Nourry Menard, a Haitian businessman.[6]

Early in her career, she wrote poetry, but later returned to prose, her first novel Brown Girl, Brownstones being published in 1959. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1960 and the following year published Soul Clap Hands and Sing, a collection of four novellas that won her the National Institute of Arts Award.[6] In 1965, she was chosen by Langston Hughes to accompany him on a State Department-sponsored world tour, on which they both read their work, which was a boon to her career.[7] She subsequently published the novels The Chosen Place, the Timeless People (1969), which the New York Times Book Review called "one of the four or five most impressive novels ever written by a black American",[8] and Praisesong for the Widow (1983), the latter winning the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award in 1984.[4]

Marshall has taught at Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of California, Berkeley, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Yale University before holding the Helen Gould Sheppard Chair of Literature and Culture at New York University.[9] In 1993 she received an honorary L.H.D. from Bates College. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.

She is a MacArthur Fellow and is a past winner of the Dos Passos Prize for Literature. She was designated as a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library in 1994.

Marshall was inducted into the Celebrity Path at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in 2001.

Her memoir, Triangular Road, was published in 2009.[10]

In 2010, Paule Marshall won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards.[11]



"I realise that it is fashionable now to dismiss the traditional novel as something of an anachronism, but to me it is still a vital form. Not only does it allow for the kind of full-blown, richly detailed writing that I love… but it permits me to operate on many levels and to explore both the inner state of my characters as well as the worlds beyond them."[12]


  1. ^ "Paule Marsahll" page at NNDB.
  2. ^ "Paule Marshall", Encyclopædia Britannica.
  3. ^ Deepika Bahrim "Marshall, Paule", Postcolonial Studies @ Emory.
  4. ^ a b Mary Katherine Wainwright, "Marshall, Paule 1929–",
  5. ^ John M. Reilly, "Paule Marshall Biography",
  6. ^ a b "Paule Marshall", Voices from the Gaps - University of Minnesota.
  7. ^ Jonathan Yardley, "A memoir from Paule Marshall, author of "Brown Girl, Brownstones". The Washington Post, March 1, 2009.
  8. ^ The New York Times Book Review, November 30, 1969, p. 24.
  9. ^ Creative Writing Program, New York University.
  10. ^ Triangular Road: A Memoir by Paule Marshall, Basic Civitas Books. ISBN 0465013597.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Alexis De Veaux, "Paule Marshall: In Celebration of Our Triumph", Essence, May 1979.

External links[edit]