Valerie Boyd: Zora Neale Hurston Biographer Dies


Valerie Boyd, world-renowned author of the definitive biography of Zora Neale Hurston, Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, died February 12, 2022, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. A native Atlantan, Valerie Jean Boyd was born on Dec. 11, 1963, to Roger and Laura Jean (Burns) Boyd. Her mother was a homemaker, and her father owned a gas station and later a tire shop in the Bankhead area of the city where she grew up.

Boyd was the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence and Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Media. Boyd co-founded and directed the distinguished low-residency MFA Program in Narrative Nonfiction at the college. Boyd was known for working with the community, mentoring her students, and connecting students with faculty and industry leaders to enhance their academic training. In 2015, Boyd organized an intimate session to introduce 12 high school students to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker at UGA’s Wilson Center for the Humanities and Arts. 

At the time of Boyd’s passing, the author had recently completed work on Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker. Hand-picked by Walker to work on the project, Boyd spent seven years researching and editing the project which will be released by Simon & Schuster in April 2022. 



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