Diane Cox McPhail
The Abolitionist's Daughter by Diane C. McPhail

Diane C. McPhail

The Abolitionist's Daughter. by Diane C. McPhail

The Abolitionist’s Daughter

Based on true events and rooted in family history, Diane C. McPhail’s debut novel upends stereotypes of the Civil War South with a rare depiction of Southern Abolitionism and the experiences of three astonishing women.

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The Abolitionist’s Daughter

On a Mississippi morning in 1859, Emily Matthews begs her father to save a slave, Nathan, about to be auctioned away from his family. Judge Matthews is an abolitionist who runs an illegal school for his slaves, hoping to eventually set them free. One, a woman named Ginny, has become Emily’s companion and often her conscience—and understands all too well the hazards an educated slave must face. Yet even Ginny could not predict the tangled, tragic string of events set in motion as Nathan’s family arrives at the Matthews farm.

A young doctor, Charles Slate, tends to injured Nathan and begins to court Emily, finally persuading her to become his wife. But their union is disrupted by a fatal clash and a lie that will tear two families apart. As Civil War erupts, Emily, Ginny, and Emily’s stoic mother-in-law, Adeline, each face devastating losses. Emily—sheltered all her life—is especially unprepared for the hardships to come. Struggling to survive in this raw, shifting new world, Emily will discover untapped inner strength, an unlikely love, and the courage to confront deep, painful truths.

In the tradition of Cold MountainThe Abolitionist’s Daughter eschews stereotypes of the Civil War South, instead weaving an intricate and unforgettable story of survival, loyalty, hope, and redemption.

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What an impressive book this is! Diane McPhail works a spell on the reader, transporting us to Mississippi in the 19th century, introducing us to a family torn apart by the time and place in which they live. She tells a dark tale, yet it’s laced with lyricism and compassion. This is a powerful, imaginative, captivating book—I’d say, even urgent, considering the time we find ourselves in now.
— Judy Goldman, author of Together: Memoir of a Marriage and a Medical Mishap
A tender, sparkling debut that bears gentle witness to the abominations of slavery and oppression while heralding the grace, power and necessity of righting wrongs and choosing love. McPhail is full of talent and heart.
— Ethel Rohan, author of The Weight of Him
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Diane C. McPhail is an artist, writer, and minister. In addition to holding an M.F.A., an M.A., and D.Min., she has studied at the University of Iowa distance learning and the Yale Writers’ Workshop, among others. Diane is a member of North Carolina Writers' Network and the Historical Novel Society. She lives in Highlands, North Carolina, with her husband, and her dog, Pepper.

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May 2018, “An Abundance Of Talent”

The Laurel Magazine


February 2018, Yale Interview

Yale Writer’s Workshop

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John Scognamiglio Books

Kensington Publishing Corp.


For review copies, event and interview requests, or other publicity-related queries, please contact: 

Vida Engstrand, Director of Communications, Kensington Publishing 


Release Date April 30, 2019


For Film/TV Rights and Foreign Rights, please contact:

Mark Gottlieb

Trident Media Group

(212) 333-1506



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The Abolitionist’s Daughter is available for pre-order at all of your favorite book sellers.