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Gayle Pemberton was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. She holds a B.A. degree in English from the University of Michigan and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University. She is the author of The Hottest Water in Chicago: Notes of a Native Daughter and numerous essays on American literature and culture. A former Guggenheim Foundation, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute and Ford Foundation fellow, Pemberton is Professor Emerita of English and African American Studies at Wesleyan University. She lives in Massachusetts with her Welsh Terrier, Ella.