In 2001, Henry Louis Gates announced the discovery of an unpublished novel called The Bondswoman’s Narrative, written in the 1850s by an enslaved woman named Hannah Crafts. If Gates had the authorship right, it would be the oldest known novel by an African-American woman. But many people doubted the book’s authorship. In 2013, however, Gregg Hecimovich produced evidence that The Bondswoman’s Narrative was indeed written by a black woman in the1850s. Hannah Crafts, he demonstrated, was the pen name of Hannah Bonds, who escaped from slavery in North Carolina. Dr. Hecimovich’s new book is The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts: The True Story of The Bondswoman’s Narrative. It’s a biography of Hannah Bonds. It’s also a detective story, telling how Gregg Hecimovich and many others uncovered the fascinating true story behind Hannah Bonds’s fictional story.

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