Ann Petry (1908–1997) was
an American author who became the first African American woman writer with book
sales topping a million copies for her novel The Street. She first studied pharmacy, and upon receiving her PhG in 1931, she worked as a pharmacist in her family’s drugstores in Old Saybrook and Old Lyme, Connecticut. During these years she wrote several short stories. When she married George David Petry in 1938, the course of her life changed. They moved to New York, and Ann wrote articles for Harlem’s Amsterdam News. By 1941 she was covering general news stories and editing the women’s pages of the People’s Voice in Harlem. Her first published story appeared in 1943 in the Crisis, a magazine published monthly by the NAACP. Afterward she began work on her first novel—The Street, published in 1946—for which she received the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. She wrote two more novels, The Country Place and The Narrows, and numerous short stories, articles, and children’s books. She was also appointed visiting professor of English at the University of Hawaii and lectured widely throughout the United States.