Bridgett M. Davis (L) with Louise Meriwether (R) at the Harlem Book Fair.

Bridgett M. Davis (L) with Louise Meriwether (R) at the Harlem Book Fair.


Louise Meriwether

Louise Meriwether (b. 1923) is a prominent author, journalist, essayist, and antiwar activist. She is the author of several books, including Fragments of the Ark and Shadow Dancing, as well as children’s biographies of African American icons such as Rosa Parks and Dr. Daniel Hale Williams. She was an early member of the Harlem Writers Guild and the Watts Writers Workshop, and the first black woman to be hired as a story editor in Hollywood. She has taught creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Houston, and is a winner of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Mellon Foundation, and New York State Council on the Arts. In 2016 she received a lifetime achievement award from the Before Columbus Foundation, and her birthday, May 8, was declared Louise Meriwether Appreciation Day by Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer. To honor her literary legacy, the Feminist Press launched the Louise Meriwether First Book Prize in 2016 to lift up women and nonbinary debut authors of color.

Daddy Was a Number Runner

— Salman Rushdie, The Guardian

This bittersweet and sharply observed masterpiece recounts a year in the life of twelve-year-old Francie Coffin. It is the summer of 1934, and nowhere are the effects of the Great Depression more apparent than in Harlem. But Harlem is also home to a community’s anger, humor, and vitality, the paradoxical cradle of young Francie’s innocence and dreams—just like the daily numbers game played for the small glint of hope that it boldly promises but will never fulfill.

Daddy Was a Number Runner has been a favorite of readers and critics since its original publication in 1970. Louise Meriwether’s classic pays tribute to the resilience of a community unwilling to surrender and to the integrity and spirit of its unforgettable young heroine. With an afterword by Nellie Y. McKay.