Romance in Color: Pioneering African American Romance Authors


Kensington Press was the first major publisher to begin a line of African American romance novels, Arabesque, in 1994. In the more than 20 years since then, the genre has exploded, with African American authors selling millions of books and topping best seller lists around the world.

The four women you'll see here- Shirley Hailstock, Gwynne Forster, Beverly Jenkins, and Brenda Jackson- are pioneers of African American romance, each bringing their unique perspectives to the genre.

Shirley Hailstock has written many suspenseful contemporary romances set in her hometown of Washington, D.C. The demography and sociology background of Gwynne Forster meant that many of her novels were framed around serious social issues. The impeccable research by Beverly Jenkins into otherwise untold African American stories often lands her books on the top of many year-end “Best Of” lists. And Brenda Jackson weaves the lives of entire families and towns into her contemporary series novels.

This exhibit is meant to just scratch the surface. There is a romance author and novel for everyone if you take the time to look!


Created by Steve Ammidown, Manuscripts and Outreach Archivist, Browne Popular Culture Library, January 2017.
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