Brooks made history in 1950 by becoming the first African American recipient of a Pulitzer Prize. Annie Allen, the winning book of poetry, tells a story in three parts of a young African American woman coming into adulthood during World War I. With formal and technical precision, Annie Allen explores the title character’s struggles with love, loss, and growing up, casting them in an epic light. The frontispiece, a soft rendering of the poet’s profile by her friend Ernest Alexander, may have been the first likeness of Brooks that readers had seen. The novel Maud Martha follows themes similar to those in Annie Allen: though the former is Brooks’s sole work of fiction, both books are partly autobiographical.
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