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 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 heartof the American experience is finally told.