Pioneer writer and poet Effie Lee Newsome is best-known for being a prolific children’s book writer. Newsome was born Mary Effie Lee in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 19, 1885 to Mary Elizabeth Ashe Lee and Benjamin Franklin Lee, a clergyman and chief editor of the Christian Recorder. She lived the first seven years of her life in Philadelphia and went on to receive her education at Wilberforce University.
Around 1917, Lee began working with W.E.B. Du Bois on The Crisis Magazine. Newsome would continue to contribute to a section of The Crisis known as The Little Page until 1934.
In 1920, she met and married Reverend Henry Nesby Newsome and thereafter was known as Effie Lee Newsome. After marriage, both Effie and Reverend Henry moved to Birmingham, Alabama, and later relocated to Wilberforce, Ohio. While in Ohio, Effie Lee Newsome worked as a librarian in an elementary school and continued to build her career as a writer during the Harlem Renaissance.
Upon becoming a poet, her works have appeared beside that of Langston Hughes, Frank Horne, and Countee Cullen in the NAACP’s Crisis magazine. Newsome was a pioneer in children’s literature. She was one of the first African American poets whose body of work consisted primarily of poems for children.