In black and white The Boston Globe
Literary critics have often wondered why the two novels of Emma Dunham Kelley-Hawkins, whose works are collected in the Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women's Writers, feature characters repeatedly described as having blue eyes, blonde hair, and snow-white skin (and contain only fleeting references to ''colored'' characters, usually servants). Critics have suggested that her characters would have been understood as ''white mulattos,'' and even that the novels may have depicted a kind of post-racial utopia. What follow are some particularly striking examples – which read very differently in light of newly uncovered archival evidence suggesting that Kelley-Hawkins wasn't African-American.
''Meg answered him with a smile and a nod and turned to a girl who had a mass of golden hair braided loosely and wound round her head. . . . Her skin was dazzling white, without one tinge of pink in it. This was Dell Manton, the beauty of the town.'' — ''Megda'' (1891)
'' 'Goodness!' exclaimed Dell, 'You are the color of marble. It must be because your hair is brushed back from your forehead.'

'She looks just as Lady Macbeth should look,' said Laurie, with quick, jealous fondness. 'The whiter the better!' '' — ''Megda''
''Her sweet face was as white as the lilies, and as pure; her blue eyes shone brightly through her veil, and the pretty, soft, fluffy 'bangs' glistened like golden threads.'' — ''Megda''
''. . . Vera sat there with the electric light shining on her golden hair and fair face.'' — ''Four Girls at Cottage City'' (1895)