Nella Larsen: Biography

Nella Larsen

13 apr 1891

Nella Larsen has written only two novels and few short stories during her lifetime but what she did brought her huge recognition. She was called by various names such as Nellallitea, Nella Larsen and Nellie Walker. Nella holds the credit of being the first African American woman to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship in creative writing.

Childhood days were a struggle for Nella. She underwent the hardships of racism. Born on Apr 13, 1891, Nella grew up as a black child in a lower middle class white family. It is not evident whether Nella’s mother supported girl’s education or is it to abandon Nella; they made her study at Fisk University, a very old prominent black university.

Nella Larsen worked as a nurse in various hospitals. The very next year of her marriage with Elmer Samuel Imes, a well-known African American physicist, Nella started writing. Her first novel, ‘Quicksand’ published in 1928 was considered very powerful. It was in a way autobiographical and it also showcased the racial discriminations that affect one’s life.

In 1929, Nella published her second novel, ‘Passing’ which also brought her much fame. Nella was made a prey to plagiarism for her short story named ‘Sanctuary’. Although it was proved false, Nella was badly hurt that she completely gave up writing. The problems that she faced in her marriage life added fuel to it and Nella never wrote again.

Nella Larsen was an American novelist of the Harlem Renaissance and had a prominent place in women’s literature. Nella’s family never cared for her and she died all alone on Mar 30, 1964.