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. (A slave named Gabriel conspired to revolt in 1800, but his plans were discovered before he could carry them out.) The historical Nat Turner, in turn, is largely the product ofa pamphlet published shortly after Turner’s trial and execution in November 1831. Although it played a crucial role in shaping perceptions of the event around the central figure of Turner, the pamphlet itself only reached a small portion of the reading public. The story awaited the Virginia-born Styron, who translated the historical record into a popular medium that commanded the full attention of the reading public and the national media. Despite its awards, however, that attention was not always positive. 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.