For Black History month, we wanted to shine our light on the tremendous work done by African-American and black women fiction authors.
Unfortunately, there is very little known about Ms. Phillips. She was born in Georgia. She graduated from Cleveland State University with a bachelor of arts in English. Like so many of women fiction authors, she spent her life working as a nurse in a the state psychiatric hospital in Cleveland rather than writing. Her work was published in Jeans Journal, Black Times, and the Crisis.
And yet, debut her novel, The Darkest Skin, was published in 2005 to great critical and fan acclaim. Unfortunately, Ms. Phillips passed away before she could write and release any other work. She was 64.
The book was popular at the time and remains one of the most influential books written by an African-American woman.
"The Darkest Child is an exceptional debut from a most talented writer. Epic in scope, intimate in tone, it is sure to find a special place in the deepest crevices of your heart."
"A well-written story that underscores the power of education, The Darkest Child paints a stark picture about life and opportunity for a young black girl in 1950s Jim Crow Georgia. This book brings up timely conversations—the characters haunted me long after I finished reading.”
—Octavia Spencer, Academy Award–winning actress from The Help and Hidden Figures
“A grim tale, set in the dying days of segregation, about one young woman’s struggle to escape her past, her mother, and her duties . . . Phillips writes vividly.”
“Filled with grand plot events and clearly identifiable villains and victims . . . lush with detail and captivating with its story of racial tension and family violence.”
—The Washington Post Book World
Ms. Phillips talent is overwhelming and apparent. Sadly, our society doesn't have a way of financially supporting even the most talented people. Millions of breathtaking, amazing, bestselling books are never written in the grind of daily work life.
There is no question that this is an extraordinary woman who worked hard at a difficult and important job. We can't help but grieve for the novels and stories that were lost inside this brilliant author.
Her life is a cautionary tale for all writers. Life is short. Don't wait. Write and write and write and write. Get your work out into the world.
Looking for a great book to read? We recommend the Darkest Child. You won't stop thinking about it.