The North Carolina Roots of African American Literature

An Anthology

Edited by William L. Andrews

328 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 20 illus., notes

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5665-9
    Published: February 2006
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-7705-0
    Published: December 2006

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The first African American to publish a book in the South, the author of the first female slave narrative in the United States, the father of black nationalism in America--these and other founders of African American literature have a surprising connection to one another: they all hailed from the state of North Carolina.

This collection of poetry, fiction, autobiography, and essays showcases some of the best work of eight influential African American writers from North Carolina during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In his introduction, William L. Andrews explores the reasons why black North Carolinians made such a disproportionate contribution (in quantity and lasting quality) to African American literature as compared to that of other southern states with larger African American populations. The authors in this anthology parlayed both the advantages and disadvantages of their North Carolina beginnings into sophisticated perspectives on the best and the worst of which humanity, in both the South and the North, was capable. They created an African American literary tradition unrivaled by that of any other state in the South.

Writers included here are Charles W. Chesnutt, Anna Julia Cooper, David Bryant Fulton, George Moses Horton, Harriet Jacobs, Lunsford Lane, Moses Roper, and David Walker.

About the Author

William L. Andrews is E. Maynard Adams Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author or editor of forty books, including North Carolina Slave Narratives: The Lives of Moses Roper, Lunsford Lane, Moses Grandy, and Thomas H. Jones.
For more information about William L. Andrews, visit the Author Page.


"A welcome effort to take more substantive scholarly note of North Carolina's centrality to African American literature. . . . North Carolina's complexities and contradictions are elegantly illustrated."--Journal of Southern History

"Thoughtful, comprehensive and very readable. . . . Andrew’s persuasive explanation of the importance of these North Carolina authors and his collection of their important works into this accessible volume is a gift."--D.G. Martin, Chapel Hill News

"This important anthology shows that North Carolina produced a remarkable, indeed unmatched record of black authorship throughout the nineteenth century. . . . Even if these eight writers were not North Carolinians, a collection of their writings makes for a compelling display of diverse African American literary expression during the first decades after slavery. The fact that these writers were all North Carolinians makes the volume even more impressive, as it points to the fact that they were all shaped by the cultural forces of this particular state during a time of tremendous political and social upheaval."--Lucinda H. MacKethan, North Carolina State University