Monday, April 1, 2013

Great Americans A to Z: Ann Petry

To kick off my Great Americans A to Z challenge, I start with Ann Petry.

Ann Petry (1908-1997) was an American author. She was the first African-American author to sell one million copies of her novel.

The Street, published in 1946, sold over 1.5 million copies. 

Although Ann began writing as a child, her first career was in pharmaceutical sciences—not writing. She graduated with a Ph.G. degree (graduate in pharmacy) and became a pharmacist in her family’s business. But like many passionate writers with day jobs and other careers, she never stopped writing.

Ann was raised to ignore sexist stereotypes of her day. While most women were taught to bar their outlooks and aspirations, Ann was taught to think beyond limits. In a Washington Post interview, Ann said that the women in her family never thought that they could not do certain things because they were women.

How empowering!

Ann also rose above the harsh racial realities she experienced in her lifetime. As a child, Ann had to endure discouraging teachers including one who refused to teach her because she was black. She had another teacher who made her read Jupiter’s lines in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Gold Bug.

(Excerpt) Jupiter the illiterate slave:
"Why, to speak de troof, massa, him not so berry well as mought be." 

But there was one teacher who would realize and affirm Ann's talent. That teacher was Ann’s high school English teacher who told her that she was talented enough to become a writer.

Despite stereotypes of women and minorities, Ann’s achievements prove that much is possible for ALL hardworkers who are dedicated to their craft.

Be empowered no matter what! 


  1. Great post. I'll be checking in over the month to see what other Great Americans you feature.

  2. Thanks for stopping by. I'm new to blogging and yours is very nice!

    Chontali Kirk

  3. Chontali, thank you so much for stopping by my blog to let me know you were here. It was great meeting you on Saturday. You are off to a wonderful start with your blog and you've picked a good A to Z topic. Do your networking and you should get many visitors and followers.

    Let me know if you have any questions or need any help. Good luck with the new enterprise. Looking good!

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  4. Ann is one of my favourite writers, thanks for sharing - I like your theme. I will be listing your blog in my post tomorrow.

    Amanda - Realityarts-Creativity
    Art Blog


Chontali Kirk