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Master Slave Husband Wife book cover

Ilyon Woo with Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom

Author Event
February 26, 2024 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. ET

You can find the links shared during our broadcast here

The remarkable true story of Ellen and William Craft, who escaped slavery through daring, determination, and disguise, with Ellen passing as a wealthy, disabled White man and William posing as “his” slave. Learn more from the author and a Craft descendant about their mission and legacy, and this “Best Book of 2023” (New York TimesNew YorkerNPRTime).  

In 1848 a young, enslaved couple, Ellen and William Craft, achieved one of the boldest feats of self-emancipation in American history. Posing as master and slave, while sustained by their love as husband and wife, they made their escape together across more than 1,000 miles, riding out in the open on steamboats, carriages, and trains that took them from bondage in Georgia to the free states of the North.  Along the way, they dodged slave traders, military officers, and even friends of their enslavers, who might have revealed their true identities. The tale of their adventure soon made them celebrities, drawing thunderous applause as they spoke alongside such great abolitionists as Frederick Douglass. Even then, with the passage of an infamous new Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, they were not out of danger.  The Crafts came were forced to flee once again—this time, from the United States.  Master Slave Husband Wife recounts their three epic journeys. Don’t miss hearing from author Ilyon Woo and Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely, a descendant of the Crafts, about the couple’s monumental and successful bid for freedom, and their legacy.

Ilyon Woo

Ilyon Woo is a New York Times bestselling author. Her previous book was The Great Divorce: A Nineteenth-Century Mother’s Extraordinary Fight Against Her Husband, the Shakers, and Her Times.  She has received support for her research from the Whiting Foundation, and National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Antiquarian Society, among other institutions. Her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Time, and The New York Times. She is graduate of Yale College and Columbia University (PhD, English).

Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely

Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely is one of the great great granddaughters of international abolitionists William and Ellen Craft and grandniece of Boston civil rights activist and publisher William Monroe Trotter. She has been an activist and poet since the 1960’s and jailed three times for her activities which included registering rural Black voters in Southwest Georgia not far from where her ancestors were once enslaved. She has a Master of Public Health and is a contributing author of Hands on The Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts of the Women of the SNCC.  She performs her poetry and speaks around the country about literacy and social justice.

Our Special Thanks to American Inspiration Series Sponsors Susan K. and John D. Thompson

Presented in partnership with Boston Public Library