Cover image for Miss Anne in Harlem : the white women of the Black Renaissance
Miss Anne in Harlem : the white women of the Black Renaissance
First edition.
Physical Description:
xxxi, 505 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
"A white girl's prayer" in "The poet's page," The Crisis -- Introduction: In search of MIss Anne -- 1. Miss Anne's world -- Black and white identity politics -- An erotics of race -- 2. Choosing blackness: sex, love, and passing -- Let me people go: Lillian E. Wood passes for Black -- Josephine Cogdell Schuyler: "The fall of a fair confederate" -- 3. Repudiating whiteness: politics, patronage, and primitivism -- Black souls: Annie Nathan Meyer writes Black -- Charlotte Osgood Mason: "Mother of the Primitives" -- 4. Rewards and costs: publishing, performance, and modern rebellion -- Imitation of life: Fannie Hurst's "Sensation in Harlem" -- Nancy Cunard: "I speak as if I were a Negro myself" -- Epilogue: "Love and consequences."
This interracial history of the Harlem Renaissance focuses on white women, collectively called "Miss Anne," who became Harlem Renaissance insiders during the 1920s.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 305.48 KAP 1 1
Book 305.48 KAP 1 1
Book 305.48 KAP 1 1

On Order



Celebrated scholar Carla Kaplan's cultural biography, Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance, focuses on white women, collectively called "Miss Anne," who became Harlem Renaissance insiders.

The 1920s in New York City was a time of freedom, experimentation, and passion--with Harlem at the epicenter. White men could go uptown to see jazz and modern dance, but women who embraced black culture too enthusiastically could be ostracized.

Miss Anne in Harlem focuses on six of the unconventional, free-thinking women, some from Manhattan high society, many Jewish, who crossed race lines and defied social conventions to become a part of the culture and heartbeat of Harlem.

Ethnic and gender studies professor Carla Kaplan brings the interracial history of the Harlem Renaissance to life with vivid prose, extensive research, and period photographs.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Northeastern University literature and gender studies scholar Kaplan (Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters) shares the previously untold story of a group of notable white women who embraced black culture-and life-in Harlem in the 1920s and '30s. Collectively known as "Miss Anne," these women served as hostesses, patrons, activists, comrades, lovers, writers, and editors at a time when the Ku Klux Klan was at its height, and when a white woman who became intimate with a "Negro" faced almost certain ostracism. A captivating group biography and social history, the book focuses on six women: Lillian Wood (Let My People Go), a teacher at a small black college; Josephine Cogdell Schuyler, a Texan heiress who married black journalist George Schuyler and became a writer herself, yet had to keep her interracial marriage hidden from her family; Barnard college founder Annie Nathan Meyer; influential patron Charlotte Osgood Mason; novelist Frannie Hurst; and English heiress Nancy Cunard. An empathetic and skillful writer, Kaplan has produced a valuable addition to the history of the period. As she shows, Miss Anne defied categorization, transcending her race, class, and gender, and introducing many of the ideas we hold today about inclusiveness and self-reinvention. 54 b&w photos and two 8-page color inserts. Agent: Brettne Bloom, Kneerim & Williams. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Frustrated by the lack of information about the strong-minded white women who played intriguing, often vexing roles in the Harlem Renaissance and who were known collectively as Miss Anne, Kaplan (Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters, 2002) took up the challenge and through arduous research reclaimed astonishing and provocative lives. She presents six indelible portraits of taboo-breakers who were reviled as either monstrous or insane for their involvement in African American culture. Each biography is shaped by Kaplan's vivid scene-setting, historical perspective, psychological sensitivity, narrative panache, and frank analysis of the virulent sexism and racism of 1920s America and the confluence in Harlem of grim social conundrums and a spectacular creative flowering. Kaplan's audacious, contrary and tragic subjects include Texan Josephine Cogdell Schuyler, a spitfire journalist who married the controversial African American newspaper editor and writer, George Schuyler; Charlotte Osgood Mason, who established herself as a meddlesome patron of Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and Alain Locke, one of the chief architects of the Harlem Renaissance ; and scandalous steamship heiress Nancy Cunard, who, to the surprise of nearly everyone, edited the era's most comprehensive anthology of black life. Kaplan's meticulously documented and intrepid history of Miss Anne encompasses a unique vantage on the complexities of race and gender and a dramatic study in paradox.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

JONATHAN SWIFT: His Life and His World, by Leo Damrosch. (Yale University, $22.) Swift (1667-1745) distinguished himself as novelist ("Gulliver's Travels"), satirist ("A Modest Proposal"), essayist, poet and political pamphleteer. Damrosch's commanding biography aims at sweeping away misconceptions about Swift's parentage, love life and moral and religious views - many of which were encouraged by Swift himself. THE dark road, by Ma Jian. Translated by Flora Drew. (Penguin, $17.) Ma Jian, whose previous books include the Tiananmen-era novel "Beijing Coma" and "Stick Out Your Tongue," a collection of stories about Tibet, here depicts the tragic effects of China's one-child policy in the rural hinterland. When a young peasant becomes pregnant without state permission, she and her husband take their first child, a daughter, and find refuge on a rickety houseboat on the Yangtze River. MISS ANNE IN HARLEM: The White Women of the Black Renaissance, by Carla Kaplan. (Harper Perennial, $16.99.) In this revelatory cultural history, Kaplan introduces the women - given the collective dismissive name "Miss Anne" - who became patrons of and participants in the Harlem Renaissance and raised hot-button issues of race, gender, class and sexuality in the bargain. LOOKAWAY, LOOKAWAY, by Wilton Barnhardt. (Picador, $16.) A family and a region are coming apart in Barnhardt's lacerating but affectionate satirical novel of the New South. Joseph B. (Duke) Johnston and his wife, Jerene, sit near the apex of society in Charlotte, N.C., but over the course of a decade they're sorely tried by a cast of characters including a rebellious, outspoken daughter; a closeted son; and Jerene's brother, Gaston, an acid-tongued, alcoholic novelist. JAPAN 1941: Countdown to Infamy, by Eri Hotta. (Vintage, $16.95.) Surveying the internal mechanics of the Tokyo regime that planned and executed the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hotta finds a web of reckless incompetence and asks: Why did these men - military leaders, politicians, diplomats, the emperor - make a decision that was doomed from the start? LAST CAR OVER THE SAGAMORE BRIDGE: Stories, by Peter Orner. (Back Bay/Little, Brown, $15.) In 52 stories, most no longer than a few pages, Orner presents a kaleidoscope of lives and experiences: lovers at a Wyoming hotel in 1912; a weary Communist in 1990s Prague; a daydreaming furniture salesman in 1940s New England. "Crystalline sentences...transform the ordinary elements of each story into an even more astonishing whole," Lauren Groff wrote here. WONDER OF WONDERS: A Cultural History of "Fiddler on the Roof," by Alisa Solomon. (Picador, $22.) Roaming across cultures and time periods, Solomon traces how and why the story of the beleaguered milkman Tevye, the creation of the Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem, was reborn as blockbuster entertainment and a global touchstone. Our reviewer, Marjorie Ingall, called "Wonder of Wonders" "as rich and dense as a chocolate babka."

Choice Review

Kaplan (literature, Northeastern Univ.) offers up a complex examination of the many white women who traveled uptown for a variety of reasons during the Harlem Renaissance. In a very well-researched and nicely illustrated book, the author dissects what she calls the "erotics of race," looking at not just the politics of race and the evolving cultural creation of black identity/white identity, but also the ways in which both gender and class intersected with race. Two preliminary chapters provide the historical context of the Harlem Renaissance and US society itself, with a special emphasis on changing gender roles for women during the 1920s. Kaplan then focuses on six white women with various motivations for risking the public and pejorative designation of "Miss Anne." They are the educator Lillian E. Wood; wealthy Texan Josephine Cogdell Schuyler; Barnard College founder Annie Nathan Meyer; philanthropist Charlotte Osgood Mason; author Fannie Hurst; and British activist Nancy Cunard. Each in her own way sought to break down racial barriers. Derided by many whites and viewed with suspicion by some blacks, these six women were often frustrated, but their stories illuminate the enduring power of race in the 20th-century US. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. K. B. Nutter Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College