The first African American to publish a book in the South, the author of the first female slave narrative in the United States, the father of black nationalism in America--these and other founders of African American literature have a surprising connection to one another: they all hailed from the state of North Carolina.
This collection of poetry, fiction, autobiography, and essays showcases some of the best work of eight influential African American writers from North Carolina during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In his introduction, William L. Andrews explores the reasons why black North Carolinians made such a disproportionate contribution (in quantity and lasting quality) to African American literature as compared to that of other southern states with larger African American populations. The authors in this anthology parlayed both the advantages and disadvantages of their North Carolina beginnings into sophisticated perspectives on the best and the worst of which humanity, in both the South and the North, was capable. They created an African American literary tradition unrivaled by that of any other state in the South.
Writers included here are Charles W. Chesnutt, Anna Julia Cooper, David Bryant Fulton, George Moses Horton, Harriet Jacobs, Lunsford Lane, Moses Roper, and David Walker.
Introductions to each narrative provide biographical and historical information as well as explanatory notes. Andrews's general introduction to the collection reveals that these narratives not only helped energize the abolitionist movement but also laid the groundwork for an African American literary tradition that inspired such novelists as Toni Morrison and Charles Johnson.
A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (1682), perhaps the first American bestseller, recounts this thirty-nine-year-old woman’s harrowing months as the captive of Narragansett Indians.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1771–1789), the most famous of all American autobiographies, gives a lively portrait of a chandler’s son who became a scientist, inventor, educator, diplomat, humorist—and a Founding Father of this land.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), the gripping slave narrative that helped change the course of American history, reveals the true nature of the black experience in slavery.
Old Times on the Mississippi (1875), Mark Twain’s unforgettable account of a riverboat pilot’s life, established his signature style and shows us the metamorphosis of a man into a writer.
Four Autobiographical Narratives (1900–1902), published in the Atlantic Monthly by Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird), also known as Gertrude Bonnin, provide us with a voice too seldom heard: a Native American woman fighting for her culture in the white man’s world.
Edited and with an Introduction by William L. Andrews
and an Afterword by Paul John Eakin
"... informative and inspiring reading." -- The Journal of American History
Jarena Lee, Zilpha Elaw, and Julia Foote underwent a revolution in their own sense of self that helped to launch a feminist revolution in American religious life and in American society as a whole.