Black Americana and Abolition – 18 – Bauman Rare Books - July 2022 “America’s First Great Black Novelist” (Heermance) 27. CHESNUTT, Charles W. The Conjure Woman. Boston and New York, 1899. Octavo, original gilt-stamped pictorial brown cloth. $4000. First edition of the very scarce first book by Chesnutt, a key volume of seven stories fusing “ancient mythology with African American folklore,” a splendid copy in original cloth. Charles Chesnutt is esteemed for having “no peer in Afro-American fiction written before his time… Chesnutt saw the creation of literature as a weapon that could defeat racism” (Gates, 116). Conjure Woman, his first book, subverts 19th-century “plantation fiction and the racial ideologies that inform it” (Nowatzki, 27). Its seven tales often feature Aun’ Peggy, “a conjure woman who works magic and casts spells… Her spells and magic are the enslaved’s primary defense against the inhumanity of enslavement” (Montgomery, Testing & Tricking). An especially scarce copy in fine condition.