2002 "First Printing: April 2002" stated; Warner Books publishers; edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; hardbound in tan and burgundy boards with gilt lettering along spine; black and white photos and drawings; very good condition with unmarked pages, appears unread; dust jacket very good; a wonderful book.
The Bondwoman's Narrative is a best-selling novel by Hannah Crafts, a self-proclaimed slave who escaped from North Carolina. She likely wrote the novel in the mid-19th century. The manuscript was authenticated and published in 2002. Scholars believe that the novel, possibly the first written by an African-American woman, was created between 1853 and 1861. It is the only known novel by a fugitive slave woman, and it may precede the novel Our Nig by Harriet Wilson, published in 1859.
The 2002 publication includes a preface by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., professor of African-American literature and history at Harvard University, describing his buying the manuscript, verifying it, and research to identify the author. Crafts was believed to be a pseudonym of an enslaved woman who had escaped from the plantation of John Hill Wheeler.
In September 2013, Gregg Hecimovich, a professor of English at Winthrop University, documented the novelist as Hannah Bond, an African-American slave who escaped about 1857 from the plantation of Wheeler in Murfreesboro, North Carolina. She reached the North and settled in New Jersey.
Crafts explores the experiences of Hannah, a house slave in North Carolina. In the preface, Crafts writes that she hopes "to show how slavery blights the lives of whites as well as the black race."
The novel opens by telling that Hannah grew up on a plantation in Virginia, where she was taught as a child to read and write by Aunt Hetty, a kind old white woman, who was subsequently discovered and reprimanded, as the education of slaves was supposed to be limited. This establishes her literacy, important in grounding her right and ability to tell her story. She describes herself as of a "complexion almost white." Later she is sold to the Henrys and the Wheelers, ending up in North Carolina with the last family.
As a young woman, Hannah serves as a lady's maid at Lindendale plantation. Her master and mistress host a large wedding. During the party, Hannah notices an unattractive old man following her new mistress. Hannah concludes that "each one was conscious of some great and important secret on the part of the other." In the coming weeks, after observing her new mistress lock herself away most of the day, Hannah comes to learn that the old man is Mr. Trappe, a crooked lawyer who has discovered that the mistress is a fair-skinned mulatto who is passing for white.
Hannah and the mistress flee the plantation in the middle of the night, become lost, and stay the night in a gloomy shack in the forest...