Nella Larsen was associated with the Harlem Renaissance. She also worked as a librarian and a nurse in New York City, pursuing nursing after her brief, successful writing career until her death in 1964. Larsen's mother was Danish, and her father was West Indian; she used her experience as the child of middle-class parents in a mixed marriage to create characters in two novels who are stranded, caught between two cultures and unable to feel wholly at home in either. In each of Larsen's novels, the heroine suffers suffocating constrictions of her identity in both African American and white European culture. These crises in both Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929) are further complicated by the heroine's quest for sexual as well as social identity, and both novels end without hopeful resolution. Both contain autobiographical elements, but Quicksand, the more successful, reproduced in fictional form many of the circumstances of Larsen's own early life. Although her work had been out of print for many years, she has recently been rediscovered.