February 11, 2016 at the National Humanities Center
In 2001, Henry Louis Gates Jr. purchased a manuscript at auction titled “The Bondwoman’s Narrative.” Gates authenticated it, and then published it in 2002 to great fanfare. The work became an instant New York Times bestseller. But while Gates identified the author’s probable master, he did not locate the author.
Gregg A. Hecimovich identifies the first black female novelist and tells her life story. At once a detective story, a literary chase, and a cultural history, The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts discovers a Dickensian tale of love, friendship, and betrayal against the backdrop of America’s slide into Civil War.