Pauline Hopkins

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Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins
Pauline Hopkins.jpg
Born 1859
Portland, Maine
Died August 13, 1930
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Occupation Novelist, journalist, playwright, historian, and editor
Nationality American
Genre Romance novel

Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins (1859 – August 13, 1930) was a prominent African-American novelist, journalist, playwright, historian, and editor. She is considered a pioneer in her use of the romantic novel to explore social and racial themes. Her work reflects the influence of W. E. B. Du Bois.


Her first known work, a musical play called Slaves’ Escape; or, The Underground Railroad (later revised as Peculiar Sam; or, The Underground Railroad), first performed in 1880. Her short story "Talma Gordon", published in 1900, is often named as the first African-American mystery story. She explored the difficulties faced by African-Americans amid the racist violence of post-Civil War America in her first novel, Contending Forces: A Romance Illustrative of Negro Life North and South, published in 1900. She published three serial novels between 1901 and 1903 in the African-American periodical Colored American Magazine: Hagar's Daughter: A Story of Southern Caste Prejudice, Winona: A Tale of Negro Life in the South and Southwest, and Of One Blood: Or, The Hidden Self. She sometimes used the pseudonym Sarah A. Allen.

Hopkins spent the remainder of her years working as a stenographer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from burns sustained in a house fire.

In 1988, Oxford University Press released The Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers with Professor Henry Louis Gates as the general editor of the series. Hopkins's novel Contending Forces: A Romance Illustrative of Negro Life North and South (with an introduction by Richard Yarborough) was reprinted as a part of this series. Hopkins's magazine novels (with an introduction by Hazel Carby) were also reprinted as a part of this series.

Of One Blood: Or, The Hidden Self is the last of four novels written by Pauline Hopkins. She is considered by some to be the most prolific African-American woman writer and the most influential literary editor of the first decade of the 20th century, though she is lesser known than many literary figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Of One Blood: Or, The Hidden Self first appeared in serial form in The Colored American Magazine in the November and December 1902 and the January 1903 issues of the publication, during the four-year period in which Hopkins served as its editor. Elements of the work have been compared to Goethe's Faust.[1]

Of One Blood: Or, The Hidden Self tells the story of Reuel Briggs, a medical student who does not care about being black or appreciating African history but finds himself in Ethiopia on an archaeological trip. His motive is to raid the country of lost treasures, which he does find. However, he discovers much more than he expected: the painful truth about blood, race, and the half of his history that was never told. Hopkins wrote the novel intending, in her own words, to "raise the stigma of degradation from [the Black] race." The title, Of One Blood, refers to the biological kinship of all human beings.

Published works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "‘Into the high ancestral spaces’: Pauline Hopkins` Of One Blood and Goethe's Faust", Sabine Isabell Engwer, Free University of Berlin, John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies.

Further reading[edit]

  • Allen, Carol. Black Women Intellectuals: Strategies of Nation, Family, and Neighborhood in the Works of Pauline Hopkins, Jessie Fauset, and Marita Bonner. New York: Garland, 1998.
  • Brown, Lois. Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins: Black Daughter of the Revolution. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.
  • Campbell, Jane. Mythic Black Fiction: The Transformation of History. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1986.
  • Sigrid Anderson Cordell, "'The Case Was Very Black against' Her: Pauline Hopkins and the Politics of Racial Ambiguity at the Colored American Magazine," American Periodicals, vol. 16, no. 1 (2006), pp. 52-73. In JSTOR
  • Carby, Hazel. Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
  • Dworkin, Ira, ed. Daughter of the Revolution: The Major Nonfiction Works of Pauline E. Hopkins. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007.
  • Gabler-Hover, Janet. Dreaming Black/Writing White: The Hagar Myth in American Cultural History. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2000.
  • Gruesser, John C. ed. The Unruly Voice: Rediscovering Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1996.
  • Knight, Alisha R. Pauline Hopkins and the American Dream: An African American Writer’s (Re)Visionary Gospel of Success. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 2012.
  • Reuben, Paul P. "Chapter 6: Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins." PAL: Perspectives in American Literature - A Research and Reference Guide.
  • Shockley, Ann A. Afro-American Women Writers, 1746-1933: An Anthology and Critical Guide. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1988.
  • Wallinger, Hanna. Pauline E. Hopkins: A Literary Biography. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005.

External links[edit]