New York State Writers Institute
New York BurningJill Lepore

September 27, 2005
4:15 Informal Seminar
Assembly Hall, CC
8:00 p.m. Reading
Assembly Hall, CC
UAlbany, Uptown Campus

Jill Lepore, prize-winning historian, is the author of the new book "New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth Century Manhattan" (2005), an illuminating early history of "a city that slavery built," and the story of a rarely recounted plot by black slaves to burn colonial New York City to the ground in 1741.

"With riveting prose and a richly imagined re-creation of a horrible but little-studied event� Lepore deftly recounts the circumstances surrounding a conspiracy in pre-Revolutionary Manhattan�. [She] draws a splendid portrait of the struggles, prejudices and triumphs of a very young New York City in which fully 'one in five inhabitants was enslaved.'" - "Publishers Weekly" (starred review)

"meticulous but accessible work of historical scholarship" and "Previously a recipient of the Bancroft Prize� Lepore may once again win that prestigious honor in American history for this searing work." - "Booklist" (starred review)

Lepore received the Bancroft Prize and the Phi Beta Kappa Society's Ralph Waldo Emerson Award for "The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity" (1999), an insightful account of a bloody and little-studied war that erupted in 1675 between the Wampanoag Indians and the English colonial settlers of what is now Massachusetts. Writing in the "New York Review of Books," Gordon Wood called it, "A product [of] imaginative, and wide-ranging scholarship� a fascinating book." Writing in the "Boston Globe," Barry O'Connell praised Lepore for her narrative style saying, "Her achievement in this book puts her in the company of our best contemporary prose stylists. It takes only a few sentences to be caught up."

Lepore is also the author of "A is for American: Letters and Other Characters in the Newly United States" (2002), a study of the role of language in forging early American identity. She is also the editor of "Encounters in the New World: A History in Documents" (1998), a collection of primary sources that illustrate early encounters between Native Americans and European newcomers.

A professor of history at Harvard University, Lepore is cofounder and coeditor of the Web magazine Common-place ( The website, which is sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society and the Florida State University Department of History, describes itself as a "common place for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture. A bit friendlier than a scholarly journal, a bit more scholarly than a popular magazine, 'Common-place' speaks-and listens-to scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and just about anyone interested in American history before 1900."

Jill Lepore Introduction
Writers Online Magazine Article