Gloria Naylor (born January 25, 1950 in New York City) is an African American novelist. Her novel The Women of Brewster Place was adapted into a 1989 film of the same name by Oprah Winfrey‘s Harpo Productions.
She was the first child to Roosevelt Naylor and Alberta McAlpin. As Naylor grew up, her father was a transit worker and her mother was a telephone operator. When Naylor was young, her mother encouraged her to read and keep a journal. Even though her mother barely had any education, she loved to read and often worked overtime in the fields as a sharecropper to produce enough money to join a book club. In 1963 she moved to Queens with her family. Five years later Naylor followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a Jehovah’s Witness, but she left seven years later as ”things weren’t getting better, but worse.”
Naylor worked as a switchboard operator for a few years while taking classes at Medgar Evers College then transferring to attend Brooklyn College, Naylor received her bachelor’s degree in English. Once completing that, she attended Yale University in order to obtain her master’s degree in Afro–American Studies. During her career as a professor, she taught writing and literature at several universities. She has taught at The George Washington University, New York University, Boston University, and Cornell University.
The Women of Brewster Place was her first novel, which she wrote during her studies at Yale. This book was finished in 1983 and was widely known right after being published. She won the National Book Award for First Fiction in 1983 for her novel. Five years later, the book was turned into a movie in which Oprah Winfrey starred. Other novels which she has written often contain personal life stories and illustrate ideas from the Bible. She believes she has been subject to mind control and wrote about her experiences in the novel 1996.