Jessie Redmon Fauset

Jessie Redmon Fauset
Jessie Redmon Fauset
Born April 27, 1882
Fredericksville, New Jersey
Died April 30, 1961(1961-04-30) (aged 79)

Jessie Redmon Fauset (April 27, 1882 – April 30, 1961) was an American editor, poet, essayist and novelist.

[1] [2]

Fauset was most known for being the editor of the NAACP magazine the Crisis. She also was the editor and co-author for the African American children magazine called Brownies' Book. She studied closely the teachings and beliefs of W.E.B Dubois and considered him to be her mentor. Fauset was known as one of the most intelligent women novelist of the Harlem Renaissance, earning her the name “the midwife”. In her lifetime she wrote four Black novels and several other poems and short stories.



Faucet was born on April 27, 1882 in Camden County New Jersey. She was the daughter of African Methodist Episcopal Redmon Fauset and Annie Seamon Fauset. Jessie’s mother died when she was a child, causing her father to remarry and have a bigger family. As a result of the big family, Jessie grew up in poverty. She attended high school in Philadelphia. She wanted to study at Bryn Mawr College but they circumvented the issue of admitting a black student by finding her a scholarship for another university and so she continued her education at Cornell. She graduated from Cornell University in 1905 with a degree in classical languages. It was speculated that she was the first black woman in the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Fauset later received her Master’s degree in French from the University of Pennsylvania.


Post-graduation Jessie became a teacher at Dunbar High School in Washington DC. While teaching she spent her summers in Paris studying at la Sorbonne. In 1919 Fauset quit teaching and became the literary editor for the Crisis alongside W.E.B. Du Bois until 1926. The two also were the co-authors of Browies Book. Fauset became very intrigued with the writings of famous authors like Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen and Claude Mckay and introduced them in her magazine. Jessie became a member of the NCAAP in represented the in the Pan African Congress in 1921. After her congress speech Delta Sigma Theta Sorority made her an honorary member. Her first novel There is Confusion was published and 1924; she later published three more after that.

Personal life

Fauset married insurance broker Herbert Harris in 1929 at the age of 47. Harris later died in 1958. She then moved back to Philadelphia with her stepbrother. Jessie Fauset Redmon died on April 30, 1961 from heart disease.

Literary works

All of Faucets novels were the stories of the African American middle class she tought was badly represented in Southern writer T. S. Stribling's novel "Birthright"[3]. Her first novel There is Confusion is the love the story of a wealthy African American woman who falls in love with a medical student and dreams of being a dancer but is held back because of her race. Published in 1923, her second novel Plum Bun is about an African American woman who desires to be an artist; and decides to do so by passing as white and rejecting her family and friends. The story ends with her embracing her race and finding true love with a black man. In 1931 she published her third novel Chinaberry Tree. Inspired by a Greek tragedy, it is another story studying the problematic of 'passing' by giving voice to an African American woman who can be seen as white. She "passes" for white in her everyday life and convinces her oldest children to do the same. The youngest child was too dark to pass which eventually leads him to commit suicide. Her last novel Comedy, a study of the tension between drama and narration, was published in 1933.


• “Rondeau.” Crisis. April 1912: 252. • “La Vie C’est La Vie.” Crisis. July 1922: 124. • “‘Courage!’ He Said.” Crisis. November 1929: 378

Short Stories

• “Emmy.” Crisis. December 1912: 79-87; January 1913: 134-142. • “My House and a Glimpse of My Life Therein.” Crisis. July 1914: 143-145. • “Double Trouble.” Crisis. August 1923: 155-159; September 1923: 205-209.


• “Impressions of the Second Pan-African Congress.” Crisis. November 1921: 12-18. • “What Europe Thought of the Pan-African Congress.” Crisis. December 1921: 60-69.


The complex of color……every colored man feels it sooner or later. It gets in the way of his dreams, of his education, of his marriage, of the rearing of his children. The time comes when he thinks, “I might just as well fall back; there’s no pushing on. A colored man just can’t make any headway in this awful country.” Of course it’s a fallacy. And a fellow sticks it out he finally gets passed it, but not before it has worked considerable confusion in his life. To have the ordinary job of living is bad enough, but to add to it all the thousand and one difficulties which follow simply in the train of being colored---well, all I’ve got to say, Silvia, is we’re some wonderful people to live through it all and keep our sanity. There is Confusion

Critiques of work

Most of Faucets writings were initially received very well by African Americans. They felt like she presented African Americans in a positive way. Even though some critics felt that her characters weren’t “black enough”, believing that there was too much racial mixing, other felt that Fauset’s novels shed a light on important issues in the African American community. Her novels mainly focused on the success and ambition of a whole generation of African Americans.

General commentary essays

Abby Arthur Johnson “Literary Midwife: Jessie Redmon Fauset and the Harlem Renaissance.” (1978) Joseph J. Feeny “Jessie Fauset of The crisis: Novelist, Feminist, Centenarian.” (1983) Vashti Crutcher Lewis “Mulatto Hegemony in the Novels of Jessie Redmon Fauset” (1992) Henry Louis Gates Jr, Nellie McKay, "The Norton Anthology of African American Literature", (2004)


  1. ^ Paul, Ruben. "Jessie Redmon Faucet". in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. Retrieved Sept 20 2011. 
  2. ^ Gale. "Jessie Redmon Fauset". Harlem Renaissance: A Gale Critical Companion. Retrieved Sept. 20 2011. 
  3. ^ Gate, McKay,The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, p.975

Selected works


Advertisement for There is Confusion


  • "The Complex of color...every colored man feels it sooner or later. It gets in the way of his dreams, of his education, of his marriage, of the rearing of his children." -


There are five substantial pieces on Fauset - all by Kevin De Ornellas - in "Writing African American Women: An Encyclopedia of Literature by and about Women of Color" (Greenwood Press, 2006), edited by Elizabeth Ann Beaulieu. One article is a biographical piece on Fauset; the other four pieces analyze her four novels.

  • "The Face of America: Performing Race and Nation in Jessie Fauset's There is Confusion", "Yale Journal of Criticism", 12, 1 (Spring 1999), 89-111 by Jane Kuenz.
  • Harlem Renaissance: A Gale Critical Companion ISBN 0-7876-6618-1
  • American Woman Writers, 1900-1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, Laurie Champion

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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