Rachel. A Play in Three Acts.
Angelina W. Grimké (1880–1958), African-American female poet, reclusive celibate lesbian, born into the noted biracial Grimké family, with its strong social and community connections to South Carolina and Boston. Grimké‘s Rachel is widely accepted to be the first play written by, published for, and stage-produced by an African-American woman. Some critics have called the play unabashed antiracist propaganda, others have described it as semi-autobiographical, with strong parallels to Grimké‘s own life. With the support of the NAACP, the play was first staged in Washington, D.C., and shortly thereafter in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
A three-act drama, Rachel is a tale of racism, of Northern prejudice and its vile effects. Set in an unnamed northern American city, between 1900 and 1910, the drama tells the story of the struggles of a young college-educated black woman who has adopted a black child. When ugly racism comes into the young boy’s life, the horror of the experience causes unending nightmares for the child, and relentless mental anguish for Rachel. As a result, Rachel foreswears marriage and motherhood, yet vows to help care for black children everywhere. The play ends with Rachel unable to fight against racism, its oppressiveness creating within her an unsurmountable sense of futility, drawn into isolation, alone with her adopted child. Rare to commerce and a very pleasing copy.
Description: Rachel. A Play in Three Acts.
Boston: The Cornhill Company, (1920). 98, [6, (blank)]pp. First Edition. Cloth, gilt-lettered, papered boards. Spine gilt faded; light rubbing to head and tail; trifle foxing to preliminary leaves. Very good.
Refs. Gates, Jr. et al AAL. NBAW, pp416–420.