The Bondwoman's Narrative

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Warner Books, 2003 - Fiction - 301 pages
4 Reviews
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An unprecedented historical and literary event, this tale written in the 1850s is the only known novel by a female African American slave, and quite possibly the first novel written by a black woman anywhere. A work recently uncovered by renowned scholar Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., it is a stirring, page-turning story of "passing" and the adventures of a young slave as she makes her way to freedom.
When Professor Gates saw that modest listing in an auction catalogue for African American artifacts, he immediately knew he could be on the verge of a major discovery. After exhaustively researching the handwritten manuscript's authenticity, he found that his instincts were right. He had purchased a genuine autobiographical novel by a female slave who called herself - and her story's main character - Hannah Crafts.
This facsimile edition of The Bondwoman's Narrative offers a high-resolution reproduction of the manuscript that Professor Gates found, presenting Crafts tale with a poignancy and power not found elsewhere. In her own hand the author tells of a self-educated young house slave all too aware of her bondage who never suspects that the freedom of her mistress is also at risk ... or how both will soon flee slave hunters and another ever more dangerous enemy.
Together with Professor Gates's brilliant introduction - which includes the story of his search for the real Hannah Crafts, the biographical facts that laid the groundwork for her novel, and a fascinating look at other slave narratives of the time - The Bondwoman's Narrative offers a unique and unforgettable reading experience. In it, a voice that has never been heard rings out, and an undiscovered story at the heart of the American experience is finally told.

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User Review  - sadiekaycarver - LibraryThing

This book is the first book written by an ex-slave. It gives an inside view to the nasty institution of slavery. The book is very interesting and very sad. It makes your heart wrench thinking of the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JuneBug1 - LibraryThing

Professor Gates relates how he came to have the manuscript of this novel , how he traced the possible authors of the manuscript and notes show the historians efforts to validate the time and place of ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was born on September 16, 1950, in Keyser, West Virginia. He received a degree in history from Yale University in 1973 and a Ph.D. from Clare College, which is part of the University of Cambridge in 1979. He is a leading scholar of African-American literature, history, and culture. He began working on the Black Periodical Literature Project, which uncovered lost literary works published in 1800s. He rediscovered what is believed to be the first novel published by an African-American in the United States. He republished the 1859 work by Harriet E. Wilson, entitled Our Nig, in 1983. He has written numerous books including Colored People: A Memoir, A Chronology of African-American History, The Future of the Race, Black Literature and Literary Theory, and The Signifying Monkey: Towards a Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism. In 1991, he became the head of the African-American studies department at Harvard University. He is now the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at the university. He wrote and produced several documentaries including Wonders of the African World, America Beyond the Color Line, and African American Lives. He has also hosted PBS programs such as Wonders of the African World, Black in Latin America, and Finding Your Roots.

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