​September 5, 1859: Harriet E. Wilson’s Novel Is Published

0 Posted by - September 5, 2018 - BLACK ART & LITERATURE, Black First, BLACK WOMEN, DID YOU KNOW, LATEST POSTS, Looking Black On Today, Missing From Textbooks, Racism, SLAVERY

The novel, Our Nig (or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, In A Two-Story White House, North.) by  Harriet Wilson was published. It was published anonymously in Boston, MA and was not widely known

Harriet E. Wilson is considered the 1st female African-American novelist, as well as the 1st African American of any gender to publish a novel on the North American continent.

Her novel Our Nig, or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black was published anonymously in 1859 in Boston, Massachusetts, and was not widely known. 

The novel was discovered in 1982 by the scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Born a free person of color, of mixed race in New Hampshire, Wilson was orphaned when young and bound as an indentured servant until the age of 18. She struggled to make a living after that, marrying twice; her only son died at age seven in the poor house, where she had placed him while trying to survive as a widow. She wrote one novel.

Wilson later was associated with the Spiritualist church, was paid on the public speaking circuit for her lectures about her life, and worked as a housekeeper in a boarding house.

LEGACY & HONORS: ?Since Henry Louis Gates, Jr’s work in 1982, Harriet Wilson has been recognized as the first African American to publish a novel in the United States.

?The Harriet Wilson Project of Milford, New Hampshire raised funds to commission and install the Harriet E. Wilson Memorial Statue (2006) in the town’s Bicentennial Park in her honor.

1 Comment

  • Andrew September 7, 2016 - 3:22 pm Reply

    Hi there, I was writing an article about Wilson’s novel for my blog and was wondering if I could use this picture? I would of course attribute it to the correct author.

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