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Celebrated scholar Carla Kaplan’s cultural biography, Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance, focuses on white women, collectively called “Miss Anne,” who became Harlem Renaissance insiders.

The 1920s in New York City was a time of freedom, experimentation, and passion—with Harlem at the epicenter. White men could go uptown to see jazz and modern dance, but women who embraced black culture too enthusiastically could be ostracized.

Miss Anne in Harlem focuses on six of the unconventional, free-thinking women, some from Manhattan high society, many Jewish, who crossed race lines and defied social conventions to become a part of the culture and heartbeat of Harlem.

Ethnic and gender studies professor Carla Kaplan brings the interracial history of the Harlem Renaissance to life with vivid prose and extensive research.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Endlessly fascinating, Miss Anne in Harlem reveals a whole new perspective on the Harlem Renaissance, and Carla Kaplan delivers an essential and absorbing portrait of race and sex in twentieth-century America.”

    Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Devil in the Grove

  • “The fact that white women played a pivotal role in creating the Harlem Renaissance was a secret hiding in plain sight, but it took Carla Kaplan’s keen eye, rigorous research, and crystal clear prose to reveal it. A surprising, delightful book.”

    Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • “Carla Kaplan has taken on a dauntingly liminal topic and by force of scholarly rigor and narrative compassion rendered it central to our understanding of an era. Lush, original, and vigorously argued.”

    Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • “In this remarkable work of historical recovery…[Kaplan] resurrects Miss Anne as a cultural figure and explores the messy contradictions of her life…Deeply researched.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Professor Kaplan, a biographer of the writer Zora Neale Hurston, captivatingly illuminates and places in overdue perspective.”

    New York Times

  • “[A] richly researched, thoughtful new book.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Intriguing.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “Kaplan always writes from inside her characters and with a novelist’s sense of scope—and compassion.”

    New Yorker

  • “[Kaplan’s] extensive research has given life to a critical period in black American history—and given credit to the white women who, for various reasons, helped the Harlem Renaissance flourish.”


  • “[A] revelatory book…Aside from its significance as cultural history, Miss Anne in Harlem is packed with amazing life stories.”

    NPR's Fresh Air

  • “Carla Kaplan has given us and history a great gift.”

    New York Journal of Books

  • “In her clear-sighted, empathetic assessment of a half-dozen of these women, Carla Kaplan casts a fresh eye over people and relationships too often reduced to stereotypes.”

    Daily Beast

  • “An empathetic and skillful writer, Kaplan…shares the previously untold story of a group of notable white women who embraced black culture—and life—in Harlem in the 1920s and ’30s…Captivating.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Kaplan’s meticulously documented and intrepid history of Miss Anne encompasses a unique vantage on the complexities of race and gender and a dramatic study in paradox.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “A work of meticulous and far-ranging scholarship, Miss Anne in Harlem matches its characters’ shocking and subversive lives with explosive revelations and subtle insights…Kaplan’s haunting narrative forces a rethinking of race and gender.”

    Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize finalist

  • “With superb, exhaustive research and finely dramatic writing, Carla Kaplan’s brilliant Miss Anne in Harlem fills an aching void in our knowledge of the Harlem Renaissance. It also significantly deepens our understanding of American culture in the 1920s and American feminism in general.”

    Arnold Rampersad, Pulitzer Prize finalist

  • “[An] utterly fascinating and deeply insightful account…This fine book takes the Misses Anne seriously and goes further, to reveal the workings of interracial networks in one of the most important cultural phenomena in American history.”

    Nell Irvin Painter, author of The History of White People

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About the Author

Carla Kaplan is an award-winning professor and writer who holds the Stanton W. and Elisabeth K. Davis Distinguished Professorship in American Literature at Northeastern University, and she has also taught at the University of Southern California and Yale. Kaplan is the author of The Erotics of Talk and Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters, as well as the editor of Dark Symphony, and Other Works by Elizabeth Laura Adams, Every Tongue Got to Confess by Zora Neale Hurston, and Passing by Nella Larsen. A recipient of a Guggenheim and many other fellowships, Kaplan has been a fellow in residence at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute, among other research centers.