The daughter of a wealthy Mississippi planter, Iola Leroy led a life of comfort and privilege, never guessing at her mixed-race ancestry — until her father died and a treacherous relative sold her into slavery. This stirring tale of life during the Civil War and Reconstruction traces a young woman's struggles and triumphs on the path to self-discovery. Confronted with the truth of her origins, Iola Leroy rejects the secrecy and shame inherent to a life of passing as white. Instead, she devotes herself to the improvement of black society in this compelling exploration of race, politics, and class. The New York Times noted that this 1892 work was "probably the bestselling novel by an African-American before the twentieth century." It bears the additional distinction of being among the first novels published by an African-American woman. Author Frances E. W. Harper, a popular lecturer and poet, was a leader in the suffrage and temperance movements and a founding member of the National Association of Colored Women. In Iola Leroy, she advocates female self-sufficiency and independence within the context of a gripping work of historical fiction.