In my mind I could see Harriet hidden in the darkness. The moon was just a sliver in the sky. In the distance I could hear the sounds of dogs and patrollers looking for her. That's how Ann Petry worked on writing books. She put herself in the mind of the character she was writing about.
Ann Lane (Petry) was born on October 12, 1908 in a small town in Connecticut called Old Saybrook. She was treated unfairly when she was young because she was black. Her mother told her stories about her ancestors to help her understand about prejudice. This inspired her to write.
Her whole family worked as pharmacists and in 1931 Ann graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in pharmacy. After working in the family business for three years, Ann wrote for the Amsterdam News. On February 22, 1938 Ann married George David Petry. They had a daughter named Elisabeth. She later became a news reported and editor for other publications. In 1941 she founded Negro Women Incorporated.
She was the first African American to write a best-selling novel. In 1946 she wrote her first book, The Street, about a tragic story on a block in Harlem. For her work she won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellow Award in 1945. From 1944 until 1946 Ann studied creative writing at Columbia University in New York City. In 1947, she wrote The Country Place, a story about dishonesty in a group of white people in a small town in Connecticut. The Narrows was written in 1953. The Narrows is a story about Link Williams, an educated black man, who works in a bar in the black part of Monmouth, Connecticut. The book also tells of his love for a rich white woman.
Ann Petry also wrote several other historical biographies for children. Her most famous is Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad.
Ann Petry died on April 28, 1997 in Old Saybrook, Ct.
image courtesy of the African American Literature Book Club
By John P. & Reynelson, fourth grade, 2004