Publication date: May 2007, $24.95, 320 pgs, cloth, 6″ x 9″, ISBN# 978-1-931807-56-2

Will’s route in the Northern Theater, battle sites in red. Map by Chales Shand, of Lake Bancroft, Virginia

Portsmouth, NH ( – Author Stephen Clarkson has artfully cloaked the facts of his own ancestors and their slaves in a gripping, colonial-era novel, Patriot’s Reward. The Midwest Book Review praised the book as “A historical novel deeply grounded in research and attention to detail. Written by a descendent of the slave owning family that once kept Will Clarkson as property, Patriot’s Reward is a profoundly involving novel about an African-American ripped from his original culture who fiercely persevered and adapted to his new culture.” Valerie Cunningham, co-author of Black Portsmouth and President of Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, Inc. says, “Patriot’s Reward reminds us that ‘Black History’ is, indeed, American history.”

The story opens with James Clarkson, a central character in the novel, who is a successful tanner in Portsmouth, NH in 1755. His new slave is a teenager, brought from Senegal on the sailing ship Exeter. Clarkson names the young man Will. A former teacher, he chooses to educate Will as a part of his training. This empowers Will, who fights for America in the Revolution.

Patriot’s Reward is unique in several ways. The first is that it takes place during the Revolutionary War, as opposed to the Civil War, where many other slave stories are set. In addition, Patriot’s Reward focuses on a young male’s perspective, which is less common in the literature. Finally it highlights that in the eighteenth century there were slaves who were educated and astute observers of the radical events and thoughts boiling in the colonies where they were captive. Will Clarkson is one of these and also an active player for himself and his brethren on the new American stage. Will’s petition for freedom to the NH Legislature lends real-life drama to this interesting fiction. In a pre-publication review, Kirkus Discoveries commended Clarkson on providing “Rich historical detail on colonial New England and the Revolutionary War…to illuminate a slave system which (is) quietly dehumanizing as it thwarts Will’s aspirations for a family and a life of his own…An engaging history lesson.”

Stephen Clarkson graduated from Yale College and the University of Virginia School of Law. He practiced law in New York City and Washington, D.C., and was Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary of Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. Now retired, he and his wife, Mary Claire, make their home in Bethesda, MD. Patriot’s Reward is his first novel.

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