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PHOTO ESSAY

Women and Literature

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Frances E.W. Harper

Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was an activist, a journalist, and a prolific novelist, as well as one of the era's best-loved poets. Her first poems were published in antislavery journals in the late 1830s, while she was still a teenager. Her first book, Autumn Leaves (1845), was a selection of poetry and prose. Her first novel, Minnie's Sacrifice (1869), was long thought to be the first published by an African American women. However, in the early 1980s Henry Louis Gates Jr. discovered that Harriet Wilson, the author of Our Nig (1859) was African American, making Wilson the first black woman to publish a novel. More recently, Gates discovered another treasure:A Bondswoman's Narrative written by Hannah Crafts in the 1850s but never published.

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