Discipline: Literature – fiction

A.J. Verdelle

Discipline: Literature – fiction
Region: Baltimore, MD
MacDowell Fellowships: 2023

A.J. Verdelle is a novelist, essayist, and working mother. Her subjects include families, language, photography, inequities, and our trying times. Her first novel, The Good Negress has gone through three paperback licenses, and has been continuously in print for more than 25 years.

Her work about photography has been published by the Whitney Museum (NY), the High Museum of Art (Atlanta) and the National Museum of African American History & Culture (Washington D.C.). Her narrative writing has been published by Amistad, Harper Collins, Algonquin, Crown, and Modern Library.

Verdelle began her teaching career at Princeton University, where she was on the faculty with Toni Morrison. In May 2022, Verdelle published a memoir of their 20-year relationship—Miss Chloe: A Memoir of Literary Friendship with Toni Morrison (Harper/Amistad). While at MacDowell, on June 11, 2023, Verdelle celebrated the paperback release of the book.

She has received awards from the Whiting Foundation, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been awarded fellowships from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, from the Lannan Foundation in Marfa, TX, and from the Bunting Institute at Harvard.

At MacDowell she worked to move mightily forward on two projects. A craft book on revision, currently called Punch & Beauty, and a novel centering Black cowboys called Meanwhile Back at the Ranch about the accomplishments and erasures of the lives of Black cowboys in the American frontier west.

Portrait by Asia Goffin



A.J. Verdelle worked in the Banks studio.

Banks, an ell on the north end of the Lodge dormitory, was first used as an artist’s studio in 1970. Since then, it has played host to an extraordinary list of writers working in several disciplines. In all seasons, Fellows have enjoyed the pastoral view through the French doors facing a field…

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