illustrations ©2011 Keith Mallett

 

EFFIE LEE NEWSOME

Mary Effie Lee Newsome (1885 – 1979) was a short fiction writer, editor, and the first well-known African-American poet whose work consisted primarily of poems for children. She was the daughter of Dr. Benjamin Franklin Lee, a president of Wilberforce University and a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Mary attended Wilberforce, Oberlin College, and the University of Pennsylvania, and later married a minister, the Reverend Henry Nesby Newsome. A number of her poems appeared in The Brownies’ Book, a magazine published by W.E.B. Du Bois. From 1925 to 1929 she wrote a
children’s column, The Little Page, for The Crisis, the official magazine of the NAACP. Her column, consisting of nature poetry, nonsense verse, and parables about being young and black in the racially biased 1920s, was an important link between The Brownies’ Book and works for children in the 1930s by Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps. Her poems for adult readers are included in Hughes’ and Bontemps’ The Poetry of the Negro (1949), and she collected her poems for children in Gladiola Garden (1940).

African-American Classics:
Graphic Classics Volume 22

144 pages, color, $15

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