by Beverly Lowry
From the publisher:
“I am at peace with God and all mankind.”
—Harriet Tubman to Mary Talbert, on the occasion of their last visit, 1913
“I’ll meet you in the morning.
I’m bound for the Promised Land
On the other side of Jordan.
Bound for the Promised Land.”
—Harriet Tubman, singing to alert slaves of a rescue
Now, from the award-winning novelist and biographer, an astonishing reimagining of the remarkable life of Harriet Tubman—the “Moses of Her People.”
During her lifetime Harriet Tubman was an escaped slave, lumberjack, laundress, raid leader, nurse, fund-raiser, cook, intelligence gatherer, Underground Railroad organizer, and abolitionist. She was known both as Moses and as General Tubman.
In Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life, Beverly Lowry goes beyond the familiar tales to create a portrait of Tubman in lively imagined vignettes that, as Lowry writes, “catch her on the fly” and portray her life as she herself might have presented it. Lowry offers readers an intimate look at Tubman’s early life firsthand: her birth as Araminta Ross in 1822 in Dorchester, Maryland; the harsh treatment she experienced growing up—including being struck with a two-pound iron when she was twelve years old; and her triumphant escape from slavery as a young woman and rebirth as Harriet Tubman. We travel with Tubman along the treacherous route of the Underground Railroad and hear of her friendships with Frederick Douglass, John Brown, and other abolitionists. We accompany her to the battlefields of the Civil War, where she worked as a nurse and a cook and earned the nameGeneral Tubman, join her on slave-freeing raids in the heart of the Confederacy, and share her horror and sorrow as she witnesses the massacre of Colonel Shaw and the black soldiers of the 54th Regiment at Fort Wagner.
Integrating extensive research and interviews with scholars and historians into a stunningly rich and mesmerizing chronicle, Lowry brings Tubman to life as never before.
BEVERLY LOWRY is the author of six novels and the nonfiction works Crossed Over and Her Dream of Dreams. The recipient of the 2007 Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award, Lowry teaches at George Mason University. She lives in Austin, Texas.
A speculative biography, told mostly through imagined scenes, of the Underground Railroad's most famous conductor. Tubman (c. 1819-1913) never learned to read or write; her memories have all been recorded and interpreted by others. Lowry (Creative Nonfiction/George Mason Univ.; Her Dream of Dreams, 2003, etc.) deals with the documentation problems this creates by acknowledging inconsistencies in the records, considering their sources and then choosing what seems most probable to her. Words like "presumably," "may have," "might" and "probably" appear frequently. Throughout, the reader learns as much about slavery, the Underground Railroad, abolitionists, the Civil War in the Carolinas and emancipation as about Tubman. We do learn that she was struck in the head as a child on Maryland's Eastern Shore and thereafter experienced narcolepsy, had visions and heard voices. We see her as an overworked child, as an enterprising young woman and as a determined runaway who escaped to the North in 1849. Once there, she saw it as her responsibility to help others. Confident that God was directing her work, she made numerous trips back, acting as guide and commander to hundreds of slaves. How she accomplished this without being captured remains unclear, although she seems to have established a large network through which she could send messages and raise funds. During the Civil War, Tubman put her organizational, navigational and intelligence skills to use as a nurse, spy and scout for the Union in the Carolinas. After the war, she spent 30 years trying to obtain retroactive pay and a pension, finally succeeding when she was 77. Lowry swiftly moves through Tubman's later years. It is for her midlifefeats that she is remembered, and those accomplishments and the circumstances surrounding them are well depicted here. Creative nonfiction from a writer well-versed in the genre.