Daniel E. Kelm and Richard Bosman
Kelm: American, 1951–; Bosman: American, 1944–

Texts by Cotton Mather, John Greenleaf Whittier, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. Pop-up paper construction, letterpress printing, photocopy transfer images onto goatskin suede, airbrushed acrylic, linen thread and tapes, and wire edge binding. Collection of George Hecksher.
Photographs by Daniel E. Kelm.

Captivity Narrative of Hannah Duston
October 1989

Captive narratives play a specific role in colonial American literature. They were, in a sense, a precursor of action thrillers, relating stories filled with adventure, danger, suffering, and thrilling escapes. 

Hannah Emerson Duston was abducted from her home in Haverill, Massachusetts by Native Americans on March 15, 1697. Her husband, Thomas, escaped with their seven children, leaving Hannah (who had just given birth) and her nurse, Mary Neff, behind. After killing her infant daughter, their captors marched Hannah and Mary Neff to a distant encampment. After sixteen days she, Neff, and another prisoner named Samuel Leonardson escaped, killing two men, two women, and six children as they slept, and taking their scalps as proof. This book, with illustrations by Richard Bosman, reproduces four versions of Hannah’s story by Cotton Mather (1706), John Greenleaf Whittier (1831), Nathaniel Hawthorne (1836) and Henry David Thoreau (1849). The four narratives are markedly different in tone, from Whittier’s praise of Hannah’s bravery to Hawthorne’s censorious treatment of her murderous actions.

The cover of Kelm’s binding of the book reproduces one of the interior illustrations by Bosman: the pivotal moment of Hannah’s raising an axe to deliver a killing blow. The inventive pop-up that accompanies the book depicts Thomas Duston and his children fleeing in one direction as the Native American warriors rush in the other direction toward the Duston homestead. 

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