The Known World

Finalist, National Book Awards 2003 for Fiction

The Known World, by Edward P. Jones, book cover 2003
ISBN 9780061159176
Amistad / HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Edward P Jones author photo
Edward P. Jones

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With the Civil War looming, former slave Henry Townsend is a farmer and boot-maker, and has as his mentor (and former owner) William Robbins, arguably the most powerful man in Manchester County, Virginia. Under Robbins’ guidance, Henry eventually becomes proprietor of his own plantation, entitling him to 50 acres of land and 33 slaves of his own. The Known World explores the often-neglected historical phenomenon of slaves with black masters in all of its legal and social complexity, providing a glimpse not only into 19th century race relations, but also into the most complex aspects of human nature itself.