March 5, 1909
If you are reading this, you are fortunate. You are among a vast generation raised to be literate, to think and feel alongside others. To learn from the trials, mistakes, and triumphs recorded with great care by your fellows. As a result, you have context for your own life as it is enriched by a sense of shared humanity. This is what I have worked for; it is what I devoted my life to ensuring. All for you.

During the four decades I ran a print shop and publishing enterprise, you may have read newspapers, books, pamphlets, and posters—and never knew I was their source. You may have presumed that an enlightened man was encouraging all those women authors along, editing their prose, pressing it to paper, and distributing it as far as the mail could reach. This is why friends are encouraging me to write down my story and share it with you. It is time, they say, for the director to step onto the stage and take a bow.

But from my vantage, I must share just what made me fight for your ability to access knowledge. Describe the things that would have been denied to me—reading, ideas, freedom, and voting—if I had not loved so very hard, cared so very much, and sacrificed in order to gain. At times, my life was on the line. Sometimes, it was the lives of my loved ones. But at every turn, I had the distinct sense that if I allowed my own self and longings to be denied, they would be denied to you also.

My wish for you, as you embark on this adventure into my past, is that it informs your own determinations. You may come to feel that, as you create a life of your own making, you feel evermore connected to those of us who came before you, and those who will come after. For I truly believe that we are more united in our sorrows and joys than we are divided. Nowhere is this more evident than through writing, as my life enters your experience through reading. May the world’s literacy and access to books like this one flourish, so that all may flourish too.

       Yours Truly,
      The Columbine Press
      Estes Park, Colorado
      United States of America


Book One: Our Sealed Letters

In a time when women depend on secret messages, having an inquiring mind and a rebellious spirit can be dangerous.

It is 1858 and Annabelle Manning’s life is as divided as America itself. Traveling between her father’s cotton plantation on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and her mother’s activist family in Rochester, New York, Annabelle struggles to reconcile the realities of enslaving people, oppressive social rules, family obligation—and her own complicity—with ideals for a freer future that seems all but impossible to achieve. 
Despite having sabotaged her father’s plans for her social debut, Annabelle knows all too well that his choice of the man she marries will determine the rest of her life. Even with a heartfelt suitor and messages from revolutionary activists like Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, and Lucretia Mott spurring her toward independence and self-determination, Annabelle faces a crushing reality: her future is in Papa’s hands, and he has his own profit in mind.
Through nature’s vigor, romantic poetry, a revealing opera, an epic painting, her beloved books, and the Gullah arts of household slaves, Annabelle gathers the courage and gains the insight into her own heart—and the world—so she can take the first bold step toward a life of her own making. She must find a way out, because people she loves are longing to follow so they can begin to act for change.  


Book Two: A Poetic Novelty

Publishing in 2025

Coming Soon!

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top