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Thu, 11.04.1897

Edythe Mae Gordon, Writer and Poet born

Publication by Edythe Mae Gordon

*The birth of n is celebrated on this date in 1897.  She was a Black writer of short stories and poetry during the era of the Harlem Renaissance.

Edythe Mae Chapman was born in Washington, D.C. She was raised by members of her mother's family, surnamed Bicks. She was educated at M Street School and graduated in 1916. In her last year at the school, she married Eugene Gordon, then a student at Howard University and later a writer for the Boston Post. By 1919 they had moved to Boston; they separated in 1932 and divorced in 1942.

In 1926, Gordon enrolled as an undergraduate at Boston University. She graduated in 1934 with a B.S. in religious education and social services; a year later, she earned her master's degree from the University of Social Services. In 1925, Gordon's husband Eugene organized a Black literary group, the Saturday Evening Quill Club, out of which he grew a literary magazine, Saturday Evening Quill, and became the editor. Published three times a year, Quill contained most of the surviving specimens of Gordon's writing.

Her first piece for Quill was a 1928 short story, "Subversion." It was listed among the year's distinguished stories by the O. Henry Award prize committee, which rarely noticed works by non-white authors at the time. Gordon would publish two more short stories and a dozen poems in Quill. She also published two poems in the 1938 anthology Negro Voices, edited by Beatrice Murphy. Gordon's fiction focused on the unhappy lives of urban Black couples, challenging some of the era's social norms. Her poems are lyrical odes to love that take their metaphors from nature.

There is little information about Gordon after her 1942 divorce. She died in 1980. A compilation of Gordon's work, Selected Works of Edythe Mae Gordon, was published in 1996. That same year, "Subversion" and another story, "If Wishes Were Horses," were republished in the anthology Harlem's Glory: Black Women Writing, 1900-1950.

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