Posted on February 17, 2020 at 12:05 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Uncle Tom’s Cabin shocked readers with their stark portrait of the horrors of slavery and remain famous for that reason today.

Another book from an African American writer, however, left a much lighter mark on literary history — and modern scholars are pushing to right that wrong.

Harriet Wilson, a free black woman, published a book depicting the suffering of a mixed-race girl working as an indentured servant to a white, Northern family.

Titled Our Nig, the 1859 book generally believed to reflect Wilson’s own life showed that abolitionists too could be racist and cruel; perhaps for that reason, it sold poorly at first, then disappeared for nearly a century.

NPR reports, though, that scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. stumbled upon a copy in the 1980s and has helped launch a revival of it.

Learn more about Wilson and the modern-day scholars she has inspired.

Categories: Today in Books

Tagged As: History, NPR