Sowing and Reaping (1876) is a novel by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. One of the first novels published by an African American woman, Sowing and Reaping is a story of friendship, romance, and tragedy that advocates for temperance nationwide. Originally published in serial format in the Christian Recorder, an important and historical periodical connected to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Sowing and Reaping was rediscovered in the late twentieth century and has since been recognized as a groundbreaking work of fiction by the first African American woman to publish a novel.
Discussing the recent closure of John Andrews' saloon, Paul Clifford and John Anderson reveal the starkly opposing natures which collide within their friendship. Although both consider themselves businessmen, Paul--whose father died young from alcoholism--always places morality ahead of opportunity while John, a pragmatist at heart, places his personal interests ahead of everything. Scolding his friend for not capitalizing on the bankruptcy of a local man, John presages the tragic events to come. As Paul falls in love with Belle through their mutual advocacy of temperance, John tries his hand as a saloon owner himself, indulging in and selling alcohol while turning a blind eye to his son's increasing dependence on drinking. Written in straightforward prose, Sowing and Reaping is a politically conscious novel concerned with the cause of temperance in a time when families and communities were frequently torn apart by alcoholism.
With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper's Sowing and Reaping is a classic of African American literature reimagined for modern readers.