Chestnutt was born in Ohio. His parents were “free persons of color.” Chestnutt could easily pass as white. However, he identified as black and noted that he was 7/8ths white.
At age 9, Chestnutt’s family moved to North Carolina. He studied to become a teacher and eventually became the assistant principal at a school that trained black students to become teachers.
In 1878, Chestnutt married. The couple moved to Ohio where Chestnutt studied law. He made a good living from the court reporting business he established.
On the side he wrote fiction and published his first short story in 1887 in The Atlantic Monthly.
Chestnutt published two short story collections (The Conjure Woman and The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line) before publishing his first novel, The House Behind the Cedars in 1900.
He continued to write and publish but his books were not commercially successful. In 1928, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal for lifetime achievement. He died in 1932.
Mixed Experience History Month is the annual blog post series created by The New York Times best-selling author Heidi Durrow celebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is an effort to highlight the long history of folks and events involved in the Mixed experience. Please look for archived profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May at Lightskinned-ed Girl, the blog! Thanks for reading. And check out some of the previous year’s profiles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. Copyright 2015.