Ann Lane Petry, who is the author of this short story, was born on October 12, 1908 in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. She grew up middle class in a predominantly white community. Her parents, both African American, had a professional status. Her father owned the local drugstore and worked as a pharmacist. Her mother was a licensed chiropodist, and worked also in many other occupations such as a hairdresser, a barber, a manufacturer, and an entrepreneur. This status helped to shield Ann from a somewhat hostile community environment (Cyclopedia). .
Petry first encountered racial prejudice when she was on a Sunday school outing at the age of seven. This, along with other experiences of racial prejudice and oppression, brought about a feeling of outrage within her. This outrage remained with her for many years. Over the years she wrote many fictional books, novels, and short stories about people with African American descent. She was the first black woman to address the problems of African women as they struggled to cope with inner city life. Ann Petry died on April 28, 1997 near her old home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut after a brief illness (Cyclopedia). Voices From the Gaps quotes:As a writer, Petry revealed her knowledge of how the interconnections of race, gender, and class can shape tragic experiences for both blacks and whites, and showed her desire to represent blacks in all of their humanity and complexity.?.
The setting of the short storyLike A Winding Sheet? takes place in the city of Harlem in 1945. Johnson and Mae are husband and wife, and are both African Americans. This is still in the time when blacks were greatly prejudiced against. The story's plot takes place from the late afternoon until the early morning hours. The date is Friday the 13th and not a very good day to go to work for the superstitious. However, for Johnson and Mae it is payday. They both work at a manufacturing plant outside of Harlem, but the story focuses more on Johnson.