The Bondwoman's Narrative

The Bondwoman's Narrative

eBook - 2002
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When her master is betrothed to a woman who conceals a tragic secret, Hannah Crafts, a young slave on a wealthy North Carolina plantation, runs away in a bid for her freedom up North. Pursued by slave hunters, imprisoned by a mysterious and cruel captor, held by sympathetic strangers, and forced to serve a demanding new mistress, she finally makes her way to freedom in New Jersey. An unprecedented historical and literary event, this tale written in the 1850's 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, 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 hand-written 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. Presented here unaltered and under its author's original title, The Bondswoman's Narrative tells of a self-educated young house slave who knows her life is limited by the brutalities of her society, but never suspects that the freedom of her plantation's beautiful new mistress is also at risk ... or that a devastating secret will force them both to flee from slave hunters with another powerful, determined enemy at their heels. 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.
Publisher: New York : Warner Books, c2002
ISBN: 9780759566859
Characteristics: lxxiv, 338 p. :,ill., map ;,24 cm
Additional Contributors: Gates, Henry Louis


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Jun 16, 2016

"Though neglected and a slave, I felt the immortal longings in me."
Though published in 2002, this is a rediscovered manuscript of enormous historical and literary interest. Turning up at an auction and probably written in the 1850s, this is thought to be the first novel written by a female slave. Harvard scholar/writer Henry Louis Gates, Jr. oversaw its publication and contributes an introduction and notes. Like many 19th century American novels (such as "Uncle Tom's Cabin"), it has some sentimental and melodramatic aspects, but this is a fascinating look into the mind and emotions of 19th century slave. Other slave narratives worth checking out: "12 Years a Slave," Frederick Douglass's book, and Harriet Jacobs's narrative.

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