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Nella Larsen

Born: April 13, 1891 in Chicago, Illinois
Died: March 30, 1964 in New York City, New York

Connection to Illinois: Larsen was born Nellie Walker, in a poor district of south Chicago known as the Levee.

Biography: Nella Larsen was an acclaimed novelist, who wrote stories in the midst on the Harlem Renaissance. Larsen is most known for her two novels, Passing and Quicksand.


Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

ISBN: 0486437132 OCLC: 55228988

Dover Publications Mineola, N.Y. : 1929

"Absolutely absorbing, fascinating, and indispensable." — Alice Walker "A work so fine, sensitive, and distinguished that it rises above race categories and becomes that rare object, a good novel." — The Saturday Review of Literature Married to a successful physician and prominently ensconced in Harlem's vibrant society of the 1920s, Irene Redfield leads a charmed existence-until she is shaken out of it by a chance encounter with a childhood friend who has been "passing for white." An important figure in the Harlem Renaissance, Nella Larsen was the first African-American woman to be awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. Her fictional portraits of women seeking their identities through a fog of racial confusion were informed by her own Danish-West Indian parentage, and Passing offers fascinating psychological insights into issues of race and gender.

ISBN: 1891396994 OCLC: 903641818

Martino Fine Books 1928

2011 Reprint of 1928 Edition not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. Nella Larsen's first novel tells the story of Helga Crane, a fictional character loosely based on Larsen's own early life. Crane is the lovely and refined daughter of a Danish mother and a West Indian black father who abandons Helga and her mother soon after Helga is born. Unable to feel comfortable with any of her white-skinned relatives, Helga lives in various places in America and visits Denmark in search of people among whom she feels at home. The work is a superb psychological study of a complicated and appealing woman, Helga Crane, who, like Larsen herself, is the product of a liaison between a black man and a white woman. In one sense, Quicksand might be called an odyssey; however, instead of overcoming a series of obstacles and finally arriving at her native land, Larsen's protagonist has a series of adventures, each of which ends in disappointment.