Trial and Triumph
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
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Trial and Triumph (1888-1889) is a novel by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. One of the first novels published by an African American woman, Trial and Triumph is a story of family, faith, and sacrifice that advocates for education and equality for all African Americans. Originally published in serial format in the Christian Recorder, an important and historical periodical connected to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Trial and Triumph was rediscovered in the late twentieth century and has since been recognized as a groundbreaking work of fiction by the first African American woman to publish a novel.
At her modest home, Mrs. Harcourt discusses a recent controversy involving her granddaughter and an irate neighbor. Having sent Annette out to the grocery store for oil, she unwittingly gave the young girl an opportunity for mischief—on her way home, Annette managed to spill oil on Mrs. Larkins’ stoop, causing the particularly diligent housekeeper to curse the girl for her carelessness. Embarrassed but unsurprised, Mrs. Harcourt has grown accustomed to Annette’s wayward nature. Ever since her mother’s death, Annette—who was abandoned by her father at birth—has struggled to find purpose in life. With few opportunities for education, and despite her affinity for reading, Annette faces prejudice and indifference from her community, who remain either cautiously protective of their children or too involved with their own problems to pay heed to another struggling youth. Written in straightforward prose, Trial and Triumph is a politically conscious novel concerned with an African American community doing its best to overcome with love what little their lot is in life.
With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s Trial and Triumph is a classic of African American literature reimagined for modern readers.
African American, black experience, 19th century, African American literature, racism, own voices, prejudice, discrimination, women authors, race relations