Item #3151 A Surprising Narrative of a Young Woman Discovered in a Cave in the Wilderness, after Having Been Taken by the Savage Indians, and Seeing No Human Being for the Space of Nine Years. In a Letter. By a Gentleman to His Friend. Abraham Panther, pseud.

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A Surprising Narrative of a Young Woman Discovered in a Cave in the Wilderness, after Having Been Taken by the Savage Indians, and Seeing No Human Being for the Space of Nine Years. In a Letter. By a Gentleman to His Friend.

Leominster, [Mass.]: Printed for Chapman Whitcomb, by Charles Prentiss, [ca 1799]. 12mo, self-wrappers. 12 pp.

One of a number of eighteenth-century editions of this popular captivity narrative, all of them rare in the market-place today.

A spurious account in the form of an epistle, it relates the story of a beautiful young woman born in Albany, New York in 1760, whose father disapproves of her lover. The couple elope into the “western wilderness” where they are captured by “savages,” and the man is murdered. The woman escapes only to be re-captured by another “Indian, of gigantic figure,” who brings her to his cave. She kills him in his sleep after he attempts to rape her and lives in the cave, with only her former captor’s dog for company, for a period of nine years, before being rescued by two explorers. Christina Riley Brown (Liberty’s Captives) notes that the Panther narrative “gave voice to the possibilities and apprehensions Americans felt about the mysterious West...” and “helped mark the immense, unbounded world then outside the perimeter of America as a locus of both wondrous potential and menacing danger.”

According to Sabin, “An edition of this narrative was advertised in the May 21, 1787, issue of the ‘Middlesex Gazette,’ printed by Woodward and Green, in Middletown…..Either this Middletown issue or the New York edition may have been the first.” However, Sabin locates no copies of a 1787 edition. Nor do any appear in OCLC. The present edition was apparently printed between 1795 and December of 1799, the period during which Charles Prentiss was operating in Leominster. OCLC records two copies. The early ownership inscriptions of two female readers, Esther Harrington and Lucretia Woodbury, appear on the verso of the title-leaf.

REFERENCES: Evans 36035, recording three locations; Sabin 93900; Not in Ayer, which does however record two other editions; Brown, Christina Riley. Liberty’s Captives : Narratives of Confinement in the Print Culture of the Early Republic, pp. 42-49.

CONDITION: Good, moderate foxing.

Item #3151

Price: $5,500.00

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