THE CONJURE WOMAN. Charles W. Chesnutt.


Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1899. Original brown cloth decorated in black, white and orange.

First Edition of this Afro-American writer's first book, a series of seven dialect stories about incidents of slavery, told as reminiscences by an old black gardener. Examples are "Po' Sandy," "Mars Jeem's Nightmare" and "Sis' Becky's Pickaninny." Later in the same year, Chesnutt's biography of Frederick Douglass was also published. Chesnutt, who grew up in Fayetteville NC and ultimately returned there as a school principal, was actually mixed-race: his paternal grandfather was a white slaveholder, and though he claimed to have more white than black ancestry (and could probably have "passed" for white), he identified himself as a black man -- or "colored" in the language of the time.

This is a near-fine copy (spine a little darkened, rear endpaper slightly cracked). Pioneer that he was, in recent years Chesnutt has become a very highly-collected author. Provenance: booklabel and signature of H[arry]. L[egare]. Watson of "Sunnyside", Greenwood SC: it was actually not until 1906 that Watson purchased this 1851 estate (named in homage to Washington Irving) -- at which time Watson was editor and publisher of Greenwood's newspaper the Index-Journal, chairman of Greenwood's public school system, and a trustee of Furman University. Item #13994

Price: $675.00