Nella Larsen was born in Chicago in 1891 to a white Danish mother and a black West Indian father. She studied in America and Denmark and throughout her writing career she worked as a children’s librarian and primarily as a nurse. In 1928 her first novel Quicksand was published to great critical acclaim. Passing was published a year later. Her marriage to Dr Elmer Imes brought her into contact with the upper echelons of New York’s black society and she became an important female voice of the Harlem Renaissance. She was the first black woman to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship for creative writing. Divorced in 1933, she spent the rest of her life working as nurse. Nella Larsen died in 1964.