Writer Juanita Harrison was best known for her autobiography, My Great, Wide, Beautiful World. The book narrates her extensive travel abroad for eight years. However, no records exist of her life after the publication of her book, and to date, her death cannot be determined.
Harrison was born in 1891 in Mississippi. She grew up when times were marked with racism, only laborious jobs for minorities, and limited success for success for blacks. Her early years started with endless rounds of cooking, washing, and ironing in a large household, however, this type work was the norm for your black girls at the time.
Harrison’s formal education stopped around ten years old and very little is know about her parents. As for Harrison’s appearance, she was described by people who knew her as being, fresh complexion, long hair braided which made her look younger than her actual years.
She began traveling the world at the age of 16, traversing the world and exploring 22 countries alone. This was very rare for a young black girl at the time. Harrison funded her trips by working various jobs as a cleaning lady, nurse, nanny, and other odd jobs. But her main source of money came from the investments of former employers of Los Angeles, California, Mr. George W. Dickinson and Mrs. Myra K. Dickinson. The Dickinson’s invested portions of her salary in real estate and gave her the profits. Harrison had long expressed a love of travel and a need to see the world. The investments soon yielded $200 in interest per year. Harrison book was dedicated to Myra Dickinson in an act of gratitude.
While on the road, Harrison stayed in wherever she could find room and board, she was able to learn French and Spanish. These language skills helped her when she visited Spain and France. She often looked up the numbers to the local boarding houses and planned her trips around her lodging accommodations.
In Harrison book, she describes her travels as individual revelations and experiences that could not be duplicated. She said of the Taj Mahal, “It thrilled me through as the beauty cannot be painted…this was built through love, from the love of a man for a woman so it was much nicer”. Harrison’s book reads as journal entries.
She was involved in a train accident while in Czechoslovakia, Twenty-six people were killed and many injured. Harrison was able to turn her most dangerous experience into profit; she asked for compensation of damages for a black eye and received all of the $200. No information is known on the final days of Juanita Harrison, her last book entry is the last record information on her life.