Title: The Autobiography Of Miss Jane Pittman.
Year and place published: 1971, New York, Toronto, London, Sydney, and Auckland.
Number of pages: 259.
Type of Book: Fictional Autobiography.
Biography of Author:.
Ernest James Gaines was born in 1933 on River Lake Plantation in Louisiana. He is the author of six novels including the widely acclaimed Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Gaines' fiction deals exclusively with life in rural black America, specifically in the fictional town of Bayonne, Louisiana. His work explores universal themes such as the conflict between tradition and change, relationships between father and son, and the importance of maintaining dignity. Gaines learned the art of storytelling firsthand in his home because it was filled with visitors who gossiped and told elaborate ghost stories and folk tales. At 15, Gaines moved to Vallejo, California, where he spent hours in the library reading Willa Cather, Turgenev, and Chekhov. He also read novels dealing with life in the American South, which he found "untrue and unreal." In 1957 Gaines committed himself to the idea of becoming a professional writer in order to "truly write about what he knows and feels." He studied creative writing at Stanford University on a Wallace Stegner Creative Writing Fellowship. Among his awards are the Joseph Henry Jackson award and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant. .
Summary of plot.
Jane Pittman is born into slavery on a plantation somewhere in Louisiana. Jane is called "Ticey" during her days as a slave and has no parents; her mother died as a result of a beating when Jane was a child, and Jane did not know her father. Until she is around nine, Jane works in the Big House caring for the white children. One day toward the end of the war, some fleeing confederate soldiers arrive, followed soon after by some union soldiers. While being served water by Jane, one Union soldier named Corporal Brown tells Jane that she will soon be free and can then visit him in Ohio.