Pauline Hopkins and a Legacy of Fiction Publishing

By Elizabeth Cali

Pauline Hopkins – an African American woman writer, editor, and activist – took over editorial control of fiction publishing at the Black magazine The Colored American Magazine in February 1901. To that point, from May 1900 – February 1901, the magazine had published typically two fiction entries per issue, with a general balance of one entry by a white author and the other by a black author. In the two instances that the magazine published just one fiction entry during those months, the author was white.

When Hopkins took over as fiction editor in February 1901, the authorship of fiction entries changed in a crucial way. Hopkins continued to publish roughly 1-3 fiction entries per issue, but during her key period of influence from March 1901 – November 1903 (33 months) Hopkins published nearly all Black authors’ works. During those 33 months, Hopkins published 67 fiction entries. 60 of those entries were by Black authors.  Even more striking, 46 of those 60 entries are by Black women writers. In other words, Pauline Hopkins’s editorship ensured that Black women’s fiction writing was at the forefront of imaginative literature published in the magazine for nearly two years.