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Jessie Redmon Fauset


Dates: April 27, 1882 - April 30, 1961

Occupation: writer, editor, educator

Known for: role in Harlem Renaissance; literary editor of the Crisis; called by Langston Hughes a "mid-wife" of African American literature; first African American woman in the United States elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Also Known as: Jessie Fauset


Jessie Redmon Fauset was born the seventh child of Annie Seamon Fauset and Redmon Fauset, a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal church.


Jessie Fauset graduated from the High School for Girls in Philadelphia, the only African American student there. She applied to Bryn Mawr, but that school instead of admitting her helped her to enroll at Cornell University, where she graduated in 1905. Fauset completed graduate degrees at the University of Pennsylania (French) and at the Sorbonne in Paris.

More About Jessie Redmon Fauset:

Jessie Fauset taught Latin and French for one year at Douglass High School in Baltimore, and then taught, until 1919, in Washington, DC, at what became, after 1916, Dunbar High School.

Fauset served as literary editor of the Crisis, published by the NAACP, from 1919-1926. For this job, she moved to New York City. She worked with W.E.B. DuBois, both at the magazine and in his work with the Pan African Movement. She also traveled and lectured extensively, including overseas, during her tenure with the Crisis.

Jessie Fauset wrote many of the articles, stories, and poems in the Crisis herself, and also promoted such writers as Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, and Jean Toomer. Her role in discovering, promoting, and giving a platform to African American writers helped to create an authentic "black voice" in American literature.

From 1920 to 1921, Fauset published The Brownies' Book, a periodical for African American children.

Jessie Faucet published four novels, the most of any writer during the Harlem Renaissance: There Is Confusion (1924), Plum Bun (1929), The Chinaberry Tree (1931), and Comedy: American Style (1933).

When she left the Crisis, Jessie Fauset attempted to find another position in publishing, but found that racial prejudice was too great a barrier. She taught French in New York City, at DeWitt Clinton High School from 1927 to 1944, continuing to write and publish her novels.

In 1929, Jessie Fauset married an insurance broker and World War I veteran, Herbert Harris. They lived with Fauset's sister in Harlem until 1936, and moved to New Jersey in the 1940s. In 1949, she briefly served as a visiting professor at Hampton Institute, and taught for a short time at Tuskegee Institute. After Harris died in 1958, Jessie Fauset moved to her half-brother's home in Philadelphia.

Jessie Redmon Fauset's writings were revived and republished in the 1960s.

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