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Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins was born in 1859, in Portland, Maine. She was born to Northrop Hopkins, a veteran of the Civil War and a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), and Sarah Hopkins. The Hopkins family remained in Maine for a short time before eventually moving to Boston, Massachusetts.
While living in Boston, Hopkins attended Girls High School. Girls High School was a leading institution in the area with a high graduation rate. Most of the students went on to attend major universities around the nation. When she was 15 years old, Hopkins entered an essay writing contest and won. Her winning essay was titled Evils of Intemperance and Their Remedies.
By the age of 16, Hopkins embarked on her musical career. She debuted with a choral group based in Boston known as the Progressive Musical Union. In 1877, 18-year-old Hopkins was selected to play the lead character in the stage production, Pauline or the Belle of Saratoga.
By 1879, Hopkins and her parents formed the Hopkins Colored Troubadours. The Troubadours were a musical troupe that accompanied Hopkins on national tours. They performed plays that she often wrote and starred in. At 21, she starred in her first original play, Slaves’ Escape or The Underground Railroad, in Boston, in 1880.
In 1895, Hopkins took a job as a stenographer for the Bureau of Statistics for the Massachusetts Decennial Census. She continued to write, however. In 1900, she wrote The Mystery Within Us, which was her first piece of published fiction. Her story was published in Colored American Magazine.
In 1902, Hopkins became the editor of Colored American Magazine. She held that position until 1915. During that time, she authored three novels: Hagar’s Daughter: A Story of Southern Caste Prejudice (1901), Winona: A Tale of Negro Life in the South and Southwest (1902), and Of One Blood or the Hidden Self (1903). She adopted her mother’s maiden name, Allen, as a pen-name.
In 1915, Hopkins became the first Black editor of New Era Magazine. The publication folded three years later in 1918. Later that same year, she landed a job as a stenographer for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her writing career was over.
Hopkins worked as a stenographer for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology until she retired. In August of 1930, a fire ignited in her residence. She suffered severe burns that she ultimately died from. Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins died on August 13, 1930. She was 71 years old.
**The views and actions of the DDH historical figures that are featured may not reflect the views and beliefs of Ramiro The Writer (Nikodemus Mwandishi). Thank you.**