Sapphira and the Slave Girl is Willa Cather's last novel, published in 1940.The story of Sapphira Dodderidge Colbert, a bitter but privileged white woman, who becomes irrationally jealous of Nancy, a beautiful young slave. The book balances an atmospheric portrait of antebellum Virginia against an unblinking view of the lives of Sapphira's slaves.
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In this story I have called several of the characters by Frederick County surnames, but in no case have I used the name of a person whom I ever knew or saw. My father and mother, when they came home from Winchester or Capon Springs, often talked about acquaintances whom they had met. The names of those unknown persons sometimes had a lively fascination for me, merely as names: Mr. Haymaker, Mr. Bywaters, Mr. Householder, Mr. Tidball, Miss Snap. For some reason I found the name of Mr. Pertleball especially delightful, though I never saw the man who bore it, and to this day I don't know how to spell it.
Willa Cather (Author)