The Bondwoman’s Narrative
by Hannah Crafts
Tells the story of Hannah Crafts, a young slave working on a wealthy North Carolina plantation, who runs away in a bid for freedom up North.
On April 2, 2002, Warner Books published The Bondwoman’s Narrative a work already being hailed as an historical literary landmark. Discovered by Harvard University scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., it is the first known novel written by an African American woman who had been a slave. The buzz about this magnificent discovery began with The New York Times front page article on November 11, 2001 and intensified when an excerpt appeared in the February 18 & 25, 2002 issue of The New Yorker.
The novel first came to the attention of Gates in February of 2001 when he bid on an ’Unpublished Original Manuscript’ offered by Swann Galleries described as ’a fictionalized biography’purporting to be the story, of the early life and escape of one Hannah Crafts, a mulatto, born in Virginia.’
The novel is told in the voice of Hannah Crafts and reveals first-hand knowledge of the intimacies shared between ladies' maids and their mistresses, the secrets they were entrusted with, and the cruel imposition of a master’s attention. Crafts relays the life of the slave as property without any rights, living in complete bondage and takes the reader back to a time when a black person's worth was determined only by the monetary value they could be acquired for.
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