Friday, November 2, 2012

A 'New' Chapter from Frances Ellen Watkins Harper's Second Novel Sowing and Reaping

It probably never entered Reverend Henry McNeal Turner's mind that, more than a century after his Christian Recorder publication of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper's Sowing and Reaping, readers would have only a fragmented version of that fascinating novel.

On July 13, 1876—only a few weeks into his new role as Publications Manager for the African Methodist Episcopal Church and only four years away from his rise to a bishopric—Turner excitedly took to the columns of the church's weekly newspaper, the Christian Recorder. He bragged that "arrangements have been made with Mrs. F. E. W. Harper for the publication of one of her inimitably written Stories." Turner not only pronounced the tale "superb" but emphasized that it was "a Temperance Story" and was so "thoroughly religious" that "our brethren need not fear to make this announcement even from the pulpit."

Turner and editor Benjamin Tucker Tanner hoped such announcements—made a month before serialization began—would give "time to those who may wish to subscribe and get the first chapters." While Turner was undoubtedly enthusiastic about the content of Sowing and Reaping, its author's name recognition also served as "evidence of the new Manager's intention to strengthen the columns of the RECORDER" and might, in itself, garner new subscribers.

Read the rest here