Rachel. A Play in Three Acts.
Angelina W. Grimké (1880–1958) was an African-American female poet and reclusive celibate lesbian who was 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 anti-racist 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, she forswears marriage and motherhood, yet vows to help care for African American children everywhere. The play ends with Rachel unable to fight against racism, its oppressiveness creating within her an insurmountable sense of futility, drawn into isolation, alone with her adopted child.
Description: Rachel. A Play in Three Acts.
Boston: The Cornhill Company, (1920). 98, [6, (blank)]pp. First Edition. Sm. 8vo. Quarter cloth and gilt-lettered papered boards. Spine gilt dulled; faintest of light foxing foxing to end leaves. A very good and attractive copy.
Refs. Gates, Jr. et al. AAL. NBAW, pp416–420.