Nella Larsen

(2398 words)
  • Patrick Chura (University of Akron )

Nella Larsen (1891-1964), novelist of the Harlem Renaissance, was born Nellie Walker in Chicago on April 13, 1891. She was the daughter of Marie Hanson, a white Danish immigrant who worked as a dressmaker, and Peter Walker, a black West Indian from the island of Saint Croix. Larsen’s father, a cook and laborer, died before Nella was old enough to know him.

Marie Hanson’s second marriage was to Peter Larsen, a Scandinavian immigrant who worked as a teamster and Chicago streetcar conductor. The couple had a daughter, Nella’s half-sister Anna, in 1892. Living in a primarily white working-class neighborhood, the mixed-race family encountered discrimination that Nella gradually realized was caused by her presence. As …
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Chura, Patrick . "Nella Larsen". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 03 September 2012
[, accessed 01 October 2016.]

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