Clarissa Scott Delany

Harlem Renaissance poet Clarissa Scott Delany's text has been set by Dorothy Rudd Moore, as well as H. Leslie Adams in his song cycle Nightsongs. Though she only published four poems in her short life, her published work, through the periodical Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life undoubtedly made an impact on the Harlem Renaissance.

Photo: Clarissa Scott Delany, public domain

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Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, Clarissa Scott Delany’s father was the secretary to Booker T. Washington.

Delany attended school in New England, first at the Bradford Academy and then at Wellesley College. She was an excellent student and, while at Wellesley, began attending meetings of the Boston Literary Guild. She traveled in Europe for a year after graduation.

Upon her return to the United States, she settled in Washington D. C., marrying Hubert T. Delany and working as a high school teacher. In 1926, she and her husband moved to New York City. Delany served as a social worker there until her sudden death in 1927 from a kidney disease.

In addition to her four poems, Delany also published articles, including “A Golden Afternoon in Germany” about her travels in Europe. She was gathering information for the article “Study of Delinquent and Neglected Negro Children” when she died.

–Christie Finn Source: The Black Renaissance in Washington website

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