Daily Archives for: November 26th, 2018

“The Two Offers” by Frances Watkins Harper – full text

“The Two Offers” by Frances Watkins Harper (1825 – 1922; also known as Frances E.W. Harper and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper) is believed to be the first published short story by an African-American writer. It first appeared in the June and July 1859 issues of the Anglo-African Magazine, a publication based in New York that featured the writings of black authors.

Written in the sentimental, somewhat stilted style of the era, the story is an example of “reform literature,” steeped in the values of Christianity, morality, and domesticity. It’s set in an era in which women of any class or race were basically the property of their fathers and husbands, were they not owned in the bonds of slavery.

The story centers on two cousins, Laura Lagrange and Janette Alston. Laura and ponders two offers of marriage. This was about as much choice as many women could exercise at a time when it was considered more important to be “the angel of the house” than the mistress of one’s own life. Read More→

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