Black Stereotypes in Popular Series Fiction, 1851–1955

Jim Crow Era Authors and Their Characters

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About the Book

Even well-meaning fiction writers of the late Jim Crow era (1900–1955) perpetuated racial stereotypes in their depiction of black characters. From 1918 to 1952, Octavus Roy Cohen turned out a remarkable 360 short stories featuring Florian Slappey and the schemers, romancers and ditzes of Birmingham’s Darktown for The Saturday Evening Post and other publications. Cohen said, “I received a great deal of mail from Negroes and I have never found any resentment from a one of them.” The black readership had to be satisfied with any black presence in the popular literature of the day.
The best known white writers of black characters included Booth Tarkington (Herman and Verman in the Penrod books), Irvin S. Cobb (Judge Priest’s houseman Jeff Poindexter), Roark Bradford (Widow Duck, the plantation matriarch), Hugh Wiley (Wildcat Marsden, the war veteran who traveled the country in the company of his goat) and Charles Correll and Freeman Gosden (radio’s Amos ’n’ Andy). These writers deservedly declined in the civil rights era, but left a curious legacy that deserves examination. This book, focusing on authors of series fiction and particularly of humorous stories, profiles 29 writers and their black characters in detail, with brief entries covering 72 others.

About the Author(s)

Bernard A. Drew, an associate editor of The Lakeville Journal and its associated weekly newspapers in Northwest Connecticut, has written 50 books. He lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

Bernard A. Drew
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 292
Bibliographic Info: 33 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7410-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1610-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface  1

Introduction: If That Is the Way They Are in Stories,

That Must Be the Way They Are in Life  4

I. Writers of the Antebellum, Reconstruction

and Early Jim Crow Era (1851–1899)  19

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896)  20

Mark Twain (1835–1910)  23

Joel Chandler Harris (1848–1908)  25

George Washington Cable (1844–1925)  29

Thomas Nelson Page (1853–1922)  30

Charles W. Chesnutt (1858–1932)  32

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906)  35

II. Writers of the Late Jim Crow Era (1900–1955)  37

Richard F. Outcault (1863–1928)  37

Henry Edwards Cowen (“Red Buck”) Bryant (1873–1967)  45

Bridges Smith (1848–1930)  49

Harris Dickson (1868–1946)  71

Irvin S. Cobb (1876–1944)  77

E.K. (Eldred Kurtz) Means (1878–1957)  88

Booth Tarkington (1869–1946)  96

James P. Alley (1885–1934) and Calvin Alley (1915–1970)  106

Ambrose E. Gonzales (1857–1926)  113

Robert McBlair (1888–1976)  118

Octavus Roy Cohen (1891–1959)  122

Harry Stillwell Edwards (1855–1938)  159

Arthur LeRoy Kaser (1890–1956)  164

Hugh Wiley (1884–1968)  170

Arthur K. Akers (1886–1980)  179

Roark Bradford (1896–1948)  183

Charles Correll (1890–1972) and Freeman F. Gosden (1899–1982)  199

Paul F. Ernst (1899–1985)  215

Will Eisner (1917–2005)  218

Langston Hughes (1902–1967)  228

III. Additional Writers of Interest  244

Phillis Wheatley (1753–1784)  245

Robert Roberts (1780–1860)  245

Thomas D. Rice (1808–1860)  245

John Pendleton Kennedy (1795–1870)  246

George Washington Dixon (1801–1861)  246

Augustus Baldwin Longstreet (1790–1870)  247

Caroline Gilman (1794–1888)  247

Lydia Maria Child (1802–1880)  247

Frederick Douglass (1818–1895)  248

William Wells Brown (1814–1884)  248

E.D.E.N. Southworth (1819–1899)  249

Mary Henderson Eastman (1818–1887)  249

Maria J. McIntosh (1803–1878)  250

Caroline Lee Hentz (1800–1856)  250

Mary J. Holmes (1825–1907)  250

Thomas Chandler Haliburton (1796–1865)  251

Johnson Jones Hooper (1815–1862)  251

Martin Delany (1812–1885)  251

Harriet E. Wilson (1825–1900)  252

Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813–1897)  252

Petroleum V. Nasby (1833–1888)  253

Samuel W. Small (1851–1931)  253

Irwin Russell (1853–1879)  254

Thomas Worth (1834–1917)  254

Colonel Prentiss Ingraham (1843–1904)  255

Louise Clarke Pyrnelle (1850–1907)  255

Katherine Sherwood Bonner McDowell (1849–1883)  256

Ruth McEnery Stuart (1849–1917)  256

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825–1911)  256

Polk Miller (1844–1913)  257

John Trotwood Moore (1858–1929)  257

Kate Chopin (1851–1904)  258

Opie Pope Read (1852–1939)  258

Bob Cole (1868–1911)  259

Miss Howard Weeden (1846–1905)  259

Martha Sawyer Gielow (1860–1933)  260

Helen Bannerman (1862–1946)  260

Alice ­Dunbar-Nelson (1875–1935)  261

Will N. Harben (1858–1919)  261

Booker T. Washington (1856–1915)  261

Martha Strudwick Young (1862–1941)  262

John Charles McNeill (1874–1907)  262

Frederick H. Seymour (1850–1913)  262

James D. Corrothers (1869–1917)  263

W.E.B. Du Bois (1868–1963)  263

Ella Middleton Tybout (1871–1952)  264

Silas Xavier Floyd (1869–1923)  264

William Marriner (1873–1914)  265

John F. Dixon Jr. (1864–1946)  265

Sara Cone Bryant (1873–?)  266

Frances Boyd Calhoun (1867–1909) and Emma Speed Sampson (1868–1947)  266

Joseph S. Cotter, Jr. (1861–1949)  267

James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938)  267

Marion F. Harmon (1861–1940)  268

B.B. Valentine (1862–1919)  269

Julia Mead Peterkin (1880–1961)  269

Robert Emmet Kennedy (1877–1941)  269

Jane Baldwin Cotton (d. 1932)  270

Nella Larsen (1891–1964)  270

Charles E. Mack (1887–1934)  271

Annie Vaughan Weaver (1905–1982)  271

Inez Hogan (1895–1973)  272

E.V. White (1879–1955)  272

Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960)  272

Richard Wright (1908–1960)  273

Ellen Tarry (1906–2008)  273

Enid Blyton (1897–1968)  274

Jackie Ormes (1911–1985)  274

Ralph Ellison (1914–1994)  275

James Baldwin (1924–1987)  275

Lorraine Hansberry (1930–1965)  275

Index  277

Book Reviews & Awards

Winner—ALA Outstanding Reference Source
“Valuable reference source…highly recommended”—American Library Association; “informative and extremely useful…recommended”—ARBA; “Drew explores the way white fiction writers wrote about black characters in the Jim Crow era”—ProtoView.