The University of Wisconsin Press

Women / Africa & Diaspora / Folklore / Arts

In Praise of Black Women, Volume 1
Ancient African Queens
Simone Schwarz-Bart with André Schwarz-Bart

With a Foreword by Howard Dobson, Director of The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture/New York Public Library

Translated by Rose-Myriam Réjouis, Stephanie K. Turner, and Val Vinokurov

A magnificently illustrated tribute to Black women in art and story

In Praise of Black Women is a magnificent tribute to women in Africa and the African diaspora from the ancient past to the present. Lavishly illustrated, with text written and selected by the celebrated Guadeloupean novelist Simone Schwarz-Bart, this four-volume series celebrates remarkable women who distinguished themselves in their time and shaped the course of culture and history.

Volume 1: Ancient African Queens weaves together oral tradition, folk legends and stories, songs and poems, historical accounts, and travelers’ tales from Egypt to southern Africa, from prehistory to the nineteenth century. These women rulers, warriors, and heroines include Amanirenas, the queen of Kush who battled Roman armies and defeated them at Aswan; Daurama, mother of the seven Hausa kingdoms; Amina Kulibali, founder of the Gabu dynasty in Senegal; Ana de Sousa Nzinga, who resisted the Portuguese conquest of Angola; Beatrice Kimpa Vita, a Kongo prophet burned at the stake by Christian missionaries; Nanda, mother of the famous warrior-king Shaka Zulu; and many others.

These extraordinary women’s stories, narrated in the style of African oral tradition, are absorbing, informative, and accessible. The abundant illustrations, many of them rare archival images, depict the diversity among black women and make this volume a unique treasure for every art lover, every school, and every family.

“This enchanting work transports the reader back in time and gives a voice to the little-known black women of the past.”
Publishers Weekly

“The author of this book, Simone Schwarz-Bart, and the book publisher, Sandrah Monthieux Pélage, have compiled a priceless source of valuable information, which will provide the building blocks for reintroducing the contributions of Black Women to a multitude of fields of study and disciplines.”
—Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)

Simone Schwarz-Bart is the author of six novels and a play, which have been translated and published in many languages; Between Two Worlds and The Bridge of Beyond have been published in English. André Schwarz-Bart is the author of three novels, including Le dernier des Justes (The Last of the Just), which was awarded the 1959 Prix Goncourt and has been translated into twenty languages. Rose-Myriam Rejouis and Val Vinokurov have previously translated two works by French novelist Patrick Chamoiseau into English: Solibo Magnificent and Texaco. They have translated In Praise of Black Women with Stephanie K. Turner. Howard Dodson is Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture/New York Public Library in New York City.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

Find out more about other volumes of In Praise of Black Women

In Praise of Black Women Vol. 2
Heroines of the Slavery Era

In Praise of Black Women Vol. 3
Modern African Women

Additional information about the French and English EditionsThis series originally appeared in French as a six-volume work entitled Hommage à la Femme Noire published in 1988 by Editions Consulaires, with more than 10,000 sets sold. Volume 1 in English combines the French Volumes 1 & 2. Volume 2 in English is a translation of Volume 3 in French. Volume 3 in English is a translation of Volume 4 in French, but also includes new material.

March 2001
LC: 00-012316 HQ
448 pp.   9 x 12   685 color illus.

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Cloth $60.00 t
ISBN 978-0-299-17250-3
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“Simone Schwarz-Bart’s goal is to rescue and reconstruct the lives of black women world wide. . . . Informative, uplifting, and inspiring!”
—Howard Dodson, director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

“What a beautiful book!!! And three more like this??? We are excited!”

QBR The Black Book Review

“Visually stunning. . . . Every page contains high-quality color reproductions, including many full- and double-page spreads, of rarely seen art works and images of African history and culture.”
Library Journal

New African is proud to recommend to its readers this wonderful tribute to black women.”
New African

“This book will be in demand particularly during the months devoted to Black History and Women’s History. An invaluable and fascinating resource.”

School Library Journal

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Updated 9/8/2014

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