December 10, 2023

September 5, 1859:

Our Nig by Harriet Wilson, the first novel published in the U.S. by an African American woman, is published. It was lost for years until reprinted with a critical essay by African American scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in 1983. Forgotten or ignored by all but a handful of bibliographers—one of whom dismissed it as a text written by a white man—Harriet E. Adams Wilson’s Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859) languished before its rediscovery by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and republication in 1983. Gates proved that Wilson authored the book and was a free African American. In part through the assertion that Our Nig was the first novel by an African American woman, he also actively advocated for its inclusion in the emerging canon of early African American literature.

You can read a full story about the book and Harriet here via



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