Victoria Christopher Murray

Pub: February 4, 2025



The extraordinary story of Jessie Redmon Fauset, whose passion and genius created the community of friends and rivals that became the Harlem literary Renaissance, written by Victoria Christopher Murray, New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Personal Librarian.

When Jessie Redmon Fauset arrives in Harlem in 1919, something is stirring. Against the pervasive racism and discrimination that pulses throughout the country, there is this little corner in America called Harlem where Black is beautiful. Black pride is evident everywhere—in music, theatre, fashion and the arts. As the new literary editor of Crisis magazine, Jessie aspires to bring this sense of pride to literature.

Her boss and founder of the preeminent Negro magazine, W. E. B. Du Bois charges her with discovering young writers whose words will change the world. And Jessie’s triumph is almost instant. She meets sixteen-year-old Countee Cullen in church, and seventeen-year-old Langston Hughes when he submits his high school graduation photograph to the magazine; she and Nella Larsen become best friends…she even mentors Zora Neale Hurston. Crisis becomes known for its groundbreaking poetry and short stories. And it isn’t the writers alone who are celebrated. Jessie shines as well, becoming famous in publishing circles.

However, W. E. B. is not only Jessie’s mentor, but also her lover—and their torrid and tumultuous affair, despite their fourteen-year-age difference and in spite of him being very married, threatens all Jessie has achieved. From the beginning, Jessie has harbored a secret desire—to become the editor of the Crisis. But W. E. B. has no intention of ever walking away from the magazine—and the woman—he loves. In the face of overwhelming sexism and racism, Jessie has realized unparalleled success and to preserve her legacy she’ll have to stand her ground once more to capture what her heart desires most.