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The Bondwoman's Narrative

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The Bondwoman's Narrative

Current Status:
In Season
Hannah Crafts

We gave it a B+

Acquired by Gates at an auction of African Americana last year, Bondwoman is thought to be, in Gates’ words, ”possibly the first novel written by a black woman and definitely the first novel written by a woman who had been a slave.” Unpublished until now, it is engrossing if standard period sentimental fare (in fact, some scholars have pointed out that she lifted passages from Dickens’ Bleak House). Gates’ introduction, however, is downright fascinating: Unraveling the mystery of the manuscript, and its author, involved scouring census reports, utilizing the resources of the Mormon genealogy library, and calling on an expert on historical documents who traced clues about the paper, ink, binding, and handwriting to establish its date and authorship. His research reads like a cross between Antiques Roadshow and CSI. B +