Talma Gordon by Pauline E. Hopkins
Talma Gordon (1900) is a short story by Pauline E. Hopkins. Recognized as the first African American mystery story, Talma Gordon was originally published in the October 1900 edition of The Colored American Magazine, America's first monthly periodical covering African American arts and culture. Combining themes of racial identity and passing with a locked room mystery plot, Hopkins weaves a masterful tale of conspiracy, suspicion, and murder. When the trial was called Jeannette sat beside Talma in the prisoner's dock; both were arrayed in deepest mourning, Talma was pale and careworn, but seemed uplifted, spiritualized, as it were. [...] She had changed much too: hollow cheeks, tottering steps, eyes blazing with fever, all suggestive of rapid and premature decay. When Puritan descendant Jonathan Gordon is discovered murdered under suspicious circumstances, the ensuing trial implicates his own daughter Talma. Despite being declared innocent, the townsfolk are determined to believe that Talma conspired to have her father killed after he discovered her mixed racial heritage. Freed from the prospect of imprisonment, Talma is left with only her sister's protection against the anger and violence of her neighbors. With this thrilling tale of murder and racial tension, Hopkins proves herself as a true pioneer of American literature, a woman whose talent and principles afforded her the vision necessary for illuminating the injustices of life in a nation founded on slavery and genocide. With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Pauline E. Hopkins' Talma Gordon is a classic work of African American literature reimagined for modern readers.