As time progresses the chasm between generations from boomers to X,Y,Z, and now alpha widens as each perceives they are removed from the issues that plagued the ones before them. The relevance of women’s rights, more specifically, outside of Women’s History Month remains prevalent. However, it is through knowing the past that we can identify misogyny in any environment and address it accordingly if necessary. Here are 10 historical fiction titles with Black female protagonists, some inspired by historical figures, sure to make you think more deeply about women’s rights and the intersectionality of race.
Island Queen by Vanessa Riley
Based in the eighteenth century, this dramatized account is based on the true life story of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas. She was a free woman of color who rose from slavery to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful landowners in the colonial West Indies.
The Davenports by Krystal Marquis
Set in the early 1900s, this imaginative novel was Inspired by the real-life story and family of Chicago’s C.R.Patterson. Similarly, The Davenport family is associated with entrepreneurship and wealth at a time when few Black families achieved this level of fortune and status. The story follows the love, career, life complexities, and perspectives of the two Davenport sisters, and their two closest friends.
The Great Mrs. Elias: A Novel by Barbara Chase-Riboud
Set in the early 1900s this novel fleshes out the mysterious life of one of the richest Black women in America during the time. Merging fiction to fill in the blanks of the limited facts on real life Hannah Elias, makes this novel edge-of-the-seat suspenseful even knowing the outcome.
Sister Mother Warrior by Vanessa Riley
This novel is about the two women, Marie-Claire Bonheur, and Gran Toya, who played intricate parts in the fruition of the Haitian Revolution. Spannng the 1750 thru early 1800s, it reimagine this historic event with reverence to the first Empress of Haiti and a West African-born warrior who helped lead the rebellion that drove out the French and freed the enslaved people of Haiti.
Double the Lies by Patricia Rayon
Set in the roaring 1920s this murder mystery chronicles the continued adventure of amateur detective, Annalee Spain. This sequel reads well independently, but be sure to check out All That Is Secret for context on the established relationships. This novel explores many isms with a lot of turns and plot twists to keep you guessing.
A Woman of Endurance by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa
Set in the nineteenth-century, this novel illuminates the Puerto Rican Atlantic Slave Trade. The protagonist is an African woman captive used as a breeder to bear more enslaved. This book explores themes of rebirth, regeneration, and reclaiming.
Things Past Telling by Sheila Williams
Spanning from the mid-eighteen-century to the end of America’s Civil War, this novel follows the memory of an African woman captive sold within the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and lived to be 112.
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray
Spanning from the 1900s to the late 1940s, this novel was based on J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene. This book unfolds her career and secrets with events and a flourish both fascinating and meticulously researched.
The Age of Phillis by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
Circa 1753-1784, this book recounts the life of Phillis Wheatley in poems, letters, and essay. It is not only a brilliantly crafted fully rendered picture of the times but it also toes the line of historical fiction and biographical tribute in verse with modern day commentary worth exploring and unpacking.
Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
This 1820s murder mystery thriller investigates a servant and former slave accused of murdering her employer and his wife. Moving from a Jamaican sugar plantation to the streets of Georgian London the twists keeps you guessing about what really happened.
For more historical fiction this summer, check out these reads>>>
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