The purpose of this Introduction is to establish the personal and literary nature of Hurston's and Rawlings's friendship. The introduction begins with an interview with Donald Wilson, who attended the tea that Rawlings hosted for Hurston at Castle Warden Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida, on July 6, 1943. Wilson, the last surviving participant at this event, was only 10 years old at the time, but he recalls that Rawlings and Hurston “spoke at ease” with one another and “appeared to be great friends.” Over the next decade, the two women met and corresponded with each other. Their letters contain affectionate comments about each other—Hurston calls Rawlings her “sister” and Rawlings writes to her editor, Maxwell Perkins, that she is “very fond” of Hurston. This primary research, plus personal interviews with people who knew both authors, will provide valuable contextual material in a construction of Rawlings' and Hurston's biographies up to 1942, during which important period of their lives they were recognized as accomplished authors, before their personal tragedies were to ensue.
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