JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This is a tale of two Jacksonville women: Cora Crane and Zora Neale Hurston. These two remarkable women paint a picture of not only different lives in Jacksonville history, but unique and fascinating women’s history in general.
Zora Neale Hurston, noted author, is more famous on the world scale than Cora Crane. Crane is largely known as the common law wife of Stephen Crane (author of the Red Badge of Courage) and proprietress of “sporting houses” (aka brothels) in LaVilla and Jacksonville Beach.
But both women led incredibly rich lives, particularly during times when women’s roles were proscribed and freedoms limited. As the saying goes, a well-behaved woman never makes history.
Cora was born in Boston into a relatively elite, white, Northeastern family. Zora was born in Alabama, but grew up as a child in Eatonville, Florida, the first incorporated town in Florida founded by African-Americans.
Despite very different backgrounds and life paths, Cora and Zora had more in common than might be imagined.