Backstories: Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God and Other Works
March 16, 2012
Valerie Boyd is the author of Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston and Spirits in the Dark: The Untold Story of Black Women in Hollywood.
She is an associate professor and the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, where she teaches magazine writing, arts reviewing and narrative nonfiction. She also has taught creative nonfiction in the graduate writing program at Antioch University in Los Angeles.
Valerie earned a bachelor’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1985 and a master’s in creative nonfiction writing from Goucher College in 1999.
An accomplished journalist and cultural critic, Valerie is the former arts editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and she has been published in numerous anthologies, magazines and newspapers. Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in Step Into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature, Ms. Magazine, Paste, The Oxford American, Book Magazine, Essence, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Creative Nonfiction, African American Review, The Scholar & Feminist Online and other publications.
She founded EightRock, a cutting-edge journal of black arts and culture, in 1990. In 1992, she co-founded HealthQuest, the first nationally distributed magazine focusing on African-American health.
Wrapped in Rainbows—the first biography of Zora Neale Hurston in 25 years—was published to wide critical acclaim. It was hailed by Alice Walker as “magnificent” and “extraordinary,” by The Washington Post as “definitive,” by The Boston Globe as “elegant and exhilarating” and by The Denver Post as “a rich, rich read.”
For her work on Wrapped in Rainbows, Valerie received the Georgia Author of the Year Award in nonfiction and an American Library Association Notable Book Award. The Georgia Center for the Book named Wrapped in Rainbows one of the “25 Books That All Georgians Should Read,” and the Southern Book Critics Circle honored it with the 2003 Southern Book Award for best nonfiction of the year.
Valerie is finishing her next book, Spirits in the Dark: The Untold Story of Black Women in Hollywood, which will be published by Knopf. She lives in Atlanta.