This week HSP honored Sue Monk Kidd as our 2015 honoree for exemplary service to history. Kidd’s newest book, The Invention of Wings, focused on the Grimke sisters, Sarah and Angelina, who moved from South Carolina to Philadelphia prior to the Civil War. Not only is The Invention of Wings an incredible historical novel, but the premise of the book is deeply rooted in the real history of the Grimke sisters who were active abolitionists and members of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society.
This book is an excellent opportunity for teachers to show the abolitionist movement through the eyes of women. The story is narrated by Sarah Grimke and a fictional slave named Hetty “Handful” who was given to Sarah as a ‘present’ from her parents. In the book, Sarah is constantly stifled and warned to never speak her mind as a woman, yet she realized her life could hardly compare with Handful who has no rights at all.
In addition to the incredible topic, HSP holds the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society collection as well as numerous letters written by the Grimke sisters. While the basis of the book is set in history, incorporating these primary source documents with the book adds an additional layer of history that can bring the characters to life for students. The main picture of this blog is actually Angelina Grimke’s wedding invitation to Theodore Weld from 1838 that can also be found on our digital library. It was meant to shock those who believed the sisters were ‘too radical’ when they invited both white and black guests, including two liberated slaves.
As a tribute to the importance of this book, HSP is starting a Book Club this summer for rising 9th - 12th grade girls. This club will give young women the opportunity to receive a free copy of the book as well as chat and eat with friends on Wednesday afternoons in June and July at HSP. For more information on The Invention of Wings Summer Book Club, please contact us or fill out an application here.