The Confessions of Nat Turner
The Confessions of Nat Turner, a novel by William Styron, was published in 1967 and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1968. The title character is based on the historical Nat Turner, a slave preacher and self-styled prophet who, in August 1831, led the only successful slave revolt in Virginia's history, which in just twelve hours left fifty-five white people in Southampton County dead. The historical Nat Turner, in turn, is largely the product of "The Confessions of Nat Turner, the leader of the late insurrection in Southampton, Va., as fully and voluntarily made to Thomas R. Gray," a pamphlet published shortly after Turner's trial and execution in November 1831. Published at the height of the Black Power movement and after a long summer of race riots in the United States, Styron's novel was labeled by some civil rights activists as racist, especially because of the author's depiction of Turner lusting after white women, one of whom he eventually kills.