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Gregg Alan Hecimovich
Winthrop University (Rock Hill, SC 29733-7001)
The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts: The True Story of The Bondwoman's Narrative

A biography of the fugitive slave who authored a 19th-century American slave narrative discovered in 2001 and published in 2002 to great fanfare, becoming an instant bestseller.

In 2001, the celebrated scholar and historian, Henry Louis Gates Jr., purchased a manuscript at auction titled "The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah Crafts a Fugitive Slave Recently Escaped from North Carolina." Gates authenticated it, and then published it in 2002 to great fanfare. The work became an instant New York Times Bestseller. But while Gates confirmed that the author's probable master was John Hill Wheeler, he could not locate the mixed-race, fugitive slave who called herself "Hannah Crafts." My book identifies the first, black female novelist as Hannah Bond "Crafts" and tells the story of her life and the search for her identity. 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, betrayal, and interracial intrigue against the backdrop of America's slide into Civil War.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
African American History; American Literature; U.S. History

Public Scholars

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2015 – 9/30/2016