Born in 1842, Julia C. Collins is known to be the first African Woman to write and publish a novel. Collins was a school teacher in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She published her novel The Curse of Caste; or The Slave Bride serially in the Christian Recorder beginning in January 1865. Collins was unable to finish her novel due to her tragic death caused by tuberculosis on November 25, 1865. Along with her novel, Collins published six other essays in the Christian Recorder. These essays are “Mental Improvement,” “School Teaching,” “Intelligent Women,” “A letter from Oswego: Originality of Ideas,” “Life is Earnest, and “Memory and Imagination.” Little else is known about Julia Collins’ life. Most of the information on Collins comes directly from articles in The Christian Recorder which does tell us that Collins was married to Stephen C. Collins and when she passed, “left motherless children.” Additional information can be found in the editors’ introduction to. . .
The Christian Recorder was a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and was based out of Williamstown, PA. The Christian Recorder gave voice to the otherwise silenced Black Americans. The Recorder was a traditional newspaper in the sense that it included birth, marriage, and death notices, but also submissions of poetry, music, and stories from readers. The majority of these submissions, as well as the news and announcements, focused on the issues that the writers and readers of the paper struggled with in the racially unequal and war torn America of the mid-19th to the very early 20th century.
To read Collins’ essays and more from The Christian Recorder, click here.