Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins (1859 – August 13, 1930) was a novelist, journalist, playwright, historian, and editor. She is considered a pioneer in her use of the romantic novel to explore social and racial themes, reflecting the influence of W. E. B. Du Bois.
Her short story “Talma Gordon,” published in 1900 in The Colored American Magazine, is often named as the first African-American mystery story. Hopkins was the editor of the magazine “devoted to literature, science, music, art, religion, facts, fiction and traditions of the Negro Race,” until 1904 and is considered to be the most influential literary editor of the first decade of the twentieth century.
Some consider Hopkins’ final novel Of One Blood–originally serialized in The Colored American— to be science-fiction. But with its portrayals of astral projection, mesmerism-inspired trances, and catalepsy, I’m comfortable placing this work with the Gothic horror sepulchre. The work is reminiscent of Poe’s fascination with the catatonic, death-like state.
“A young medical student interested in mysticism” finds himself in Ethiopia on an archaeological trip. Poised to raid the country of its treasures, he discovers the painful truth about blood, race, and a history of which he was never told.