Barbara Neely was born in 1941and lived in a rural Pennsylvania Dutch community in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. She attended a Roman Catholic elementary school and was the only child in her class of Pennsylvania German dialect (popularly known as Pennsylvania Dutch) students to speak English fluently and was the only student of African American descent to attend her elementary and high school. In 1971 she moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she was awarded a Masters degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Pittsburgh.
Neely published her first short story in 1981, “Passing the Word” Essence magazine. She began publishing her Blanche White mystery novels in 1992 with Blanche on the Lam, followed by Blanche Among the Talented Tenth, Blanche Cleans Up, and Blanche Passes Go. Neely’s heroine Blanche is a heavy-set, dark-skinned Black woman who works as a maid who is proud of her work and does not let it get in the way of her independence and proud personality.
“Blanche White is back—talking trash, telling truth and treating anybody who reads her new tale to a very good time, indeed!“ —Valerie Wilson-Wesley