Born into a family of pharmacists in a small Connecticut town, Ann Petry graduated in 1931 with a degree in pharmacy from the University of Connecticut. From 1931 to 1938 she worked in the family’s drugstore before moving to New York City to become a writer.

She began her career as a journalist, writing for the Amsterdam News (1938–41) and the Peoples’ Voice of Harlem (1941–44), and then studied creative writing at Columbia University (1944–46). Petry's most popular novel "The Street" was published in 1946 and won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship.

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