The Magazine Novels of Pauline Hopkins Analysis

Pauline Hopkins

Winona: A Tale of Negro Life in the South and Southwest, 1902

(Great Characters in Literature)


Winona, the daughter of White Eagle and a runaway slave. She falls in love with Maxwell, becomes an heiress, and marries him.


Judah, a strong, handsome African American who loves Winona. Judah is instrumental in solving the mystery of the missing heir.

White Eagle

White Eagle, an English aristocrat who is falsely convicted of murder. He flees to America but is killed by Colonel Titus to keep him and his daughter from inheriting a fortune.

Colonel Titus

Colonel Titus, the indirect heir who kills White Eagle and kidnaps Winona and Judah, forcing them to work as slaves.

Warren Maxwell

Warren Maxwell, a handsome, unprejudiced, twenty-eight-year-old English lawyer. He is sent to America to find the missing heir. He is nearly killed by proslavery forces but is saved. He marries Winona and takes her to England.

John Brown

John Brown, the historical personage, known for abolitionist actions.

Of One Blood: Or, The Hidden Self, 1902-1903

(Great Characters in Literature)

Reuel Briggs

Reuel Briggs, a medical student who keeps his African American heritage a secret. He marries Dianthe Lusk. After her death, he learns that she and Aubrey Livingston are his siblings. He becomes King Ergamenes of the lost city of Telassar in Africa.

Aubrey Livingston

Aubrey Livingston, the false friend of Briggs. He plots Briggs’s death, commits two murders, and kills himself.

Dianthe Lusk

Dianthe Lusk, a beautiful, talented singer with the Fisk University choir. She marries Briggs. When tricked into believing that he is dead, she marries Livingston, who poisons her.


Ai, a high priest of the lost civilization of Telassar.


(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Ammons, Elizabeth. Conflicting Stories: American Women Writers at the Turn into the Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Discusses all three of Hopkins’ serialized novels, demonstrating that the author became more experimental with each. Concentrating on Of One Blood, Ammons makes the point that the novel centers on the figure of the black female artist. Compares Hopkins’ use of the supernatural with that of Toni Morrison.

Baker, Houston A. Workings of the Spirit: The Poetics of Afro-American Women’s Writing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. Situates the work of Pauline Hopkins within the tradition of African American women’s writing. Although concentrating on Contending Forces, Baker’s comments also illuminate the texts of the three magazine novels.

Braxton, Joanne. “Afra-American Culture and the Contemporary Literary Renaissance.” In Wild Women in the Whirlwind: Afra-American Culture and the Contemporary Literary Renaissance, edited by Joanne Braxton and Andrée Nicola McLaughlin. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1990. Discusses the contribution Hopkins made to twentieth century African American literature.

Carby, Hazel V. Introduction to The Magazine Novels of Pauline Hopkins. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Provides a brief biographical sketch, focusing on her contributions to Colored American Magazine. Also examines Hopkins’ three magazine novels, emphasizing their political content.

Carby, Hazel V. Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. This work provides context for the writings of Hopkins. Also discusses her major fiction. Concludes that pan-Africanism informed her later work, particularly Of One Blood.

Otten, Thomas. “Pauline Hopkins and the Hidden Self of Race.” ELH: A Journal of English Literary History 59 (1992): 227-256. Deals with Of One Blood and discusses psychological theories prevalent at the time Hopkins wrote the novel. Often posits that Hopkins adopted William James’s view, that the hidden self was both conscious and personal, in order to link mysticism to long-held African American ideas concerning the mind.

Tate, Claudia. “Allegories of Black Female Desire: Or, Rereading Nineteenth-Century Sentimental Narratives of Black Female Authority.” In Changing Our Own Words: Essays on Criticism, Theory, and Writing by Black Women, edited by Cheryl Wall. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1989. Discusses nineteenth century African American attitudes toward marriage and freedom. Concludes that Hopkins’ texts are liberating.