Slave-Breeding, Truth-Telling, and Fiction – Margaret Wrinkle’s Wash

Slave-Breeding, Truth-Telling, and Fiction - Margaret Wrinkle's WashI met Margaret Wrinkle a few years ago when she was speaking at the Festival of the Book in Charlottesville.  (Even for me, who knows the city, it’s name carries more weight now.)  I introduced myself after her talk, telling her about a mutual friend and that I was so excited to read her book because it is fact told in fiction.

Wrinkle wrote her novel Wash after hearing a rumor that an ancestor of hers might have been involvedin the practice of slave-breeding.  The novel explores that horrific but all too common practice, where men and women were used to build the “people wealth” of their owners.  Men were sent out to “stud,” women to “be bred.”  The practice was not at all unlike the way livestock was bred, and it was abominable.

Wrinkle’s novel explores the story of Wash, a man who is used as a stud for his master.  She does so with great respect for Wash and the other people whose lives his path crosses, and her prose is beautiful.

Today, Margaret has given me two copies of her novel to share with you, so if you’d like to enter to win one, please just leave a comment below about why you’d like to read this book, and I’ll randomly choose two winners on Friday, August 25 and contact them by email for shipping information.

This isn’t an easy book to read, but then, it shouldn’t be. It’s well-worth your time.


You can learn more about Margaret Wrinkle’s work as an author and a filmmaker at her website.

  • Laura-Lillian Best

    It is imperative that we acknowledge and accept this purposely hidden history of America’s enslavement of the African, no matter how ugly it is (and it is ugh) so that this nation can move forward in reconciliation can move forward.

    Then you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free John 8:32 -NIV

  • Kristin

    I am an avid student of history and really want to know more about this. I will share the book with others after I read it to ensure the history is spread and preserved in our minds and hearts.

  • Maeve Duffey

    I’ve read many tough books….everyone should in order to be aware of history….what has already happened in the world and what is still occurring in places and spaces that sometimes are only experienced through the eyes of writers who inform us and take us into locations, both physical and emotional, that should be understood more fully to help make us better human beings. Would love to read this book!

  • Cassidy Boone

    With the current climate as it is in the US right now, I am working to educate myself as much as possible. It is imperative to the health of our nation to educate ourselves on everything, even the worst parts of history.

  • I’d like to read this book because I believe the stories shouldn’t be forgotten.

    The evil that was done should be forgiven, but not forgotten, in order to ensure this does not happen again.

    The good of the people who fought, and the victims, should not be forgotten either. They can inspire us to do good even when evil is being done to us.
    Whether it is a true story or a fictional one, the

  • Beverly Hand

    I have herd about slave breeding and wonder if any of my ancestors could have been subjected to it.

  • Kirsten LaBlanc

    What a powerful gift! The best gifts are sometimes the most uncomfortable.

  • Maya

    The topic of breeding enslaved people I haven’t seen or read much about. I think it was a recent movie about slavery that mentioned it briefly and I was curious about it. I know it will be painful to read. Even still it is important history to know.

  • I have never heard of this and it sounds like such an insightful book. I would be thrilled to be chosen as I am a impoverished grad student in clinical mental health. Being a licensed professional counselor, I want to be well prepared to work with people of color and others who are oppressed in Oregon

  • Monique Padilla

    I know this is going to be a painful read, just doing research on my family is just as painful, but it would be very interesting nevertheless.

  • Thank you for letting us know about this book. I would like a copy of it so I can understand and prepare myself for this part of my family history. While I am researching multiple lines of my family tree, there is one branch of my family where oral history indicates that at least one of my great-grandmothers was used for breeding. As painful as it will be to learn more about this, I need to do so in order to keep trying to piece my family back together.

  • Kim Jones

    Hi! Thanks for your offer of the book: Slave-Breeding. I am interested. Thanks!

  • Linnie Girdner

    I would like to read this book because this is an important topic. The U.S. stopped the Transatlantic Slave Trade in 1808, so slave-breeding was a significant and horrendous way in which enslavers could increase their “property.” After reading it, I would like to see if my African American Lit class at the Senior Center will pick it to read. We read some tough stuff and it is helpful not to do it alone. Thank you for considering my request. (I don’t like that the word enslavers is underlined by spellcheck as if it is a spelling mistake!)

  • Heather Martin

    I am fascinated by history, good and bad. I love any media by or about African-Americans. Slavery was terrible, however there is an underlying story of strength and perseverance from our ancestors tbat we all can learn from.

  • I’d like to read this book because I enjoy reading historical fiction stories that incorporate elements of truth, which helps me to learn more about the past.

  • Jon Carlsten

    This is a very generous offer that you have made. I would like to up the ante: I will pay for 2 copies of “Wash.” Send 1 copy to me at the address below, and give the 2nd copy to another person who will benefit from the reading.

    My DNA includes 1% African (South Western hunter-gatherers, probably Angolan). My ancestors are from Tidewater Virginia, who arrived in the 1650’s. They owned slaves, plantations no doubt my African DNA came from the subject of this book – the breeding of slaves. Thank you

    • Andi Cumbo-Floyd

      Jon, what a kind gift. Let me be sure I understand your offer. You’ll give another copy (a third copy) away to someone at the same time you buy one for yourself? Is that correct?

  • Ameera Zakari

    I’d like the opportunity to read the book because I know that there is always so much for me to learn about history ss it pertains to those who were enslaved.

  • Lisa Blevins

    I would love to read this book because I want to know about all of the history of my Southern region, not just the white washed version. It would be passed around in my activism groups here in Charleston, SC.

  • I’m currently researching a book I’m writing about a story from the overland slave trade. One of the subjects of my book has been described as a “slave breeder.” For my research, I’m trying to read a lot of different kinds of books, nonfiction and fiction, to learn about how these sorts of books are written and facts are cited, etc. (This is my first book) and to be generally inspired. So, that’s why I’d like to read it. Thanks!

  • Crucial perspective. I hope others will follow my personal awakening. My mother’s family holds James Monroe Leer (1841-1894) in high regard: the Kentuckian grew extremely wealthy, breeding mules. Only after digging deep into family history did I realize his ancestors likely bred slaves. Only after meeting a descendant from a slave rape by Leer’s wife’s ancestor did I begin to wonder to what degree this conduct was justified by ‘improving the breed.’ In my mind, interfering with mankind’s gene pool is akin to crimes against humanity.
    I find this a challenging topic to address, among my kinfolk.

    • HI Roger, you won a free copy of Wash. If you’ll please email your address to me at [email protected], I’ll get the book right out to you. Congratulations.

  • I would like to read the book because it is fact-based fiction and Margaret Wrinkle was brave enough to write about it. It is difficult to find documentation of this practice.

  • Anastasia Robertson

    Its a part of OUR Collective history to be shared, embraced and remembered.

  • Stephen Pope

    I am still studying the slave breeding phenomenon as both a cross and interracial component of eurocentric capitalism. The abolition of slave importation pressured the market to institutionalize this practice beyond the casual occurrences of earlier times. This subject is one of the least taught and less documented aspects of the peculiar abomination.

  • Carole Monday

    I would love to have this book. I love history and biography books. I am the family historian/genealogist for a family that is tri-racial, black, white, and Native American. We have slave holders, enslaved persons, free persons of color, and people that fought for end of slavery, all in our family tree.

  • Jodi Jackson

    Because it is a disgusting truth that I’ve known, but not read about.

  • Nancy E. Martin

    I would love to read Wash! I’ve read a number of books on this topic, and each one has opened my eyes and heart to the horror that was slavery.

  • I’ve read a reasonable amount of material about slavery in the US, the Underground Railroad and the Civil War, but I’ve never read anything specifically about this topic. Thanks for letting me know about it (whether I win or not!).

  • Connie Shaw

    I would like to read the book and save it for our granddaughters whose father is from Senegal. We watched Selma with them and the history of slavery is something we want them and our son in law to know more about.

  • LaKesha Kimbrough

    This looks like a wonderful, yet challenging read. Thanks for sharing this, Andi. I’m adding it to my must read list.

  • Would love to win a copy!

    • Andi Cumbo-Floyd

      Great, Teresa. Please tell me why you’d like to read the book to be eligible to win.

  • Wow, that sounds like something I might want to adopt as a textbook. I’d love a copy.

    • HI Gwyn, you won a free copy of Wash. If you’ll please email your address to me at [email protected], I’ll get the book right out to you. Congratulations.

  • From the description of the novel, Wrinkle brought a tremendous amount of humanity and sensitivity to the most oppressive of situations. By fusing that truth into narrative fiction, those moments have the potential to heal. I’m interested in reading Wrinkle’s novel to complement my current research and transcription project on the Registro de Esclavos ca 1870 in Puerto Rico; there are certificates for many children, also deemed ‘people wealth’ within a Caribbean plantation complex.

  • Toni Battle

    Hi Andi, I’m interested in one of the copies. This story speaks to my family history. My 3rd great grandfather was a “stud;” as part of his enslavement. He was taken from plantation to plantation and studded out. I am also descended from another branch who came from a breeding plantation. The plantation bred for “features” which would be appealing for certain buyers in Louisiana. Definitely a painful history, but I do wish to read and have a copy of “Wash.”

  • Diana

    I would love to read about Wash and the truth of his life.

  • Hilary

    We should want to learn about all aspects of our country’s history – even the hard to read parts. If our ancestors lived it, it’s our responsibility to learn about it and honor the memories of those who endured.

  • T Jane Heffelfinger

    I am a 56 year old woman who was eligible for Pell Grants to go to college after losing everything during the 2008-2010 financial crisis. I received my BA degree in History, Religious Studies minor, and decided to shoot for the moon with a Masters in U.S. History, African American Experience focus. I completed my courses and now need to research for and write the thesis to graduate.

    This book would help me understand more completely the experiences of African Americans during this time period, and the struggles their descendants have with the honest and frank history of their ancestors. It would be an honor to be chosen to receive a copy of this important work!

  • Andi Cumbo-Floyd

    Please leave your comment here to enter the giveaway.

    • Hi Andi – My name is Kathryn Knight (K I Knight) and I would LOVE to win a copy of WASH!
      I too am an author of a fact-based historical series, “Fate & Freedom” and was Wondering if I could get you to do a review on my book/s? The history “Fate & Freedom” reveals intertwines with your own Cumbo line. Fate & Freedom tells the story of the first “Twenty and Odd” Africans to arrive in Virginia in 1619. Also, I enjoy your blog very much! Best, Kathryn

  • Ruthann Carr

    I’ve spent most of my life being fascinated by and learning about people who many consider different from me. I grew up in Akron, Ohio, went 12 years to an inner-city Catholic school and in 1976 married the man who would father my three children. I am white. He is black. We stayed together for 30 years. Our marriage was unusual in more ways than the obvious one. Our children grew up being loved by and spending time with both my family and their dad’s. Issues of slavery and how that stain continues to mar our society hurts me deeply. I read just about every book I can get my hands on about racial issues, most from my local library. When I moved to Virginia to remarry it was the first time I lived below the Mason-Dixon line. It’s been a learning experience. I am a writer myself. I appreciate good writing. I can think of 100 more reasons why I want to read this book, but there’s not enough room to write them all down. I’d love to join a book club where we read these kind of books and discuss them. It’s a passion of mine. With three biracial children and three grandchildren it affects me deeply.

  • Everyone, thank you so much for entering. This morning, I used a random number generator, and Roger and Gwyn have won the copies of the books.

    Thank you again.