She Spied for Freedom - Mary Richards: A Black Civil War Agent

Author(s): Margaret C. Jones

ISBN: 9781781559192
£18.90 £27.00
The first full-length biography of Mary Richards, a black Civil War hero who took her fight against slavery into the very heart of the Confederacy.
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  • A vital contribution to the re-evaluation of the legacy of the American Civil War

  • Comes at a time of widespread reassessment about the roles and status of people of African descent and their place in the history of Western nations

  • Draws on unpublished and little-known sources, correcting myths and inaccuracies

  • Written by an accomplished academic and biographer, with three other biographies to her name

  • A compelling, fast-paced narrative featuring a host of famous characters, including Confederate President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe, and legendary spymaster Elizabeth Van Lew
During the American Civil War, an educated black woman posed as an illiterate slave in the home of the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. Spying on the war councils of Davis and his advisers, she risked her life to send vital intelligence across the lines to Union generals.

Born into slavery, but freed to be educated in the North, Mary Richards, also known as Mary Bowser and Mary Denman, was sent to Liberia as a teenage missionary. Having returned to Richmond, Virginia, by the start of the Civil War, she was recruited as a Union spy by her friend and patron, abolitionist spymaster Elizabeth Van Lew, who sent her on her perilous mission to the White House of the Confederacy. After the war, Mary continued her fight against slavery and its legacy, risking her life in rural Georgia, where she established a school to teach freed former slaves amid growing threats from the Ku Klux Klan.

BOOK ISBN 9781781559192
FORMAT 234 x 156 mm
BINDING Hardback
PAGES 168 pages
ILLUSTRATIONS 18 illustration



Margaret C. Jones lived in the US for nine years, and taught literature and history at Central Washington University (1990–92). She later lived in Bristol, UK, where she was employed as a senior lecturer at the University of the West of England. Her PhD (in American Studies) is from Purdue University, Indiana. In addition to She Spied for Freedom, she is the author of three biographies: The Adventurous Life of Amelia Edwards (Bloomsbury, 2022); Founder, Fighter, Saxon Queen: Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians (Pen & Sword, 2018); and Heretics and Hellraisers (U. of Texas Press, 1993). She lives and writes in Stroud, UK, but spends part of each year in Alexandria, Egypt.