Waters Turpin was a native of the town of Oxford, Eastern Shore, Maryland; an educator at Lincoln University and Morgan State, a novelist and playwright. Encouraged to write by Edna Ferber —she blurbed that his first book was “possibly the outstanding negro novel of our day…”
Turpin would publish three novels in all. Rootless is the third. Like the first novel, the book’s setting is the Eastern Shore. The protagonist, Prince, a slave of royal blood, is enslaved and brought to the New World to live on a Maryland plantation in the late eighteenth century, a playmate for his childhood companion who is his master.
Turpin’s writings have been described as “eloquent, dramatic, and imaginative.” These elements are seen in Rootless. The evils of slavery are described. Harsh punishments and cruelties are meted out by slave-holders. (In one instance by two slave-owners who are “two women ... unreasoning sadists.”) Prominent themes play to the budding Abolitionist movement, runaway slaves, and plantation life on the Eastern Shore.
Turpin’s motive to write this book was to show that the ills of slavery took a long time to eradicate, but were eventually overcome by the American spirit. Present-day 1950s segregation, Turpin reasoned, was an extension of “attitudes generated by slavery” but one that could be banished by America’s innate push for democracy and its “ideal of human freedom ... and the humane worth of all its people.”
Rare to commerce. See Andrews, Foster and Smith, Oxford Companion…, pp739–740.
Description: The Rootless.
New York: Vantage Press, (1957). 340pp. First Edition. Octavo. Cloth. A small split at heel of spine; jacket lightly rubbed its spine panel faded and with a small sticker abrasion. A very good clean copy.