Harlem Renaissance writer Nella Larsen’s final publication, a short story titled “Sanctuary,” was alleged to have been plagiarized from a white British writer, Sheila Kaye-Smith. Larsen, however, claimed it was based on an oral narrative she heard years before. Critics have largely resisted accepting Larsen’s explanation of the story’s origins, believing her to have committed plagiarism. Starting with the opposite premise—that the story does have a folkloric source—may exonerate her from plagiarism charges.

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