In Two Captains from Carolina, Bland Simpson twines together the lives of two accomplished nineteenth-century mariners from North Carolina–one African American, one Irish American. Though Moses Grandy (ca. 1791- ca. 1850) and John Newland Maffitt Jr. (1819-1886) never met, their stories bring to vivid life the saga of race and maritime culture in the antebellum and Civil War-era South. With his lyrical prose and inimitable voice, Bland Simpson offers readers a grand tale of the striving human spirit and the great divide that nearly sundered the nation.
In this interview on NC Bookwatch, Simpson speaks with host D.G. Martin about Two Captains from Carolina and the fascinating lives led by Grandy, former slave turned Boston abolitionist, and Maffit, a midshipman in the U.S. Navy at age thirteen turned legendary blockade runner. Simpson also explains his reasons for contrasting these two men with each other in this “nonfiction novel.”
Bland Simpson is Kenan Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and longtime member of the Tony Award-winning Red Clay Ramblers. He is author of numerous books, including Into the Sound Country: A Carolinian’s Coastal Plain, Ghost Ship of Diamond Shoals: The Mystery of the Carroll A. Deering, and The Coasts of Carolina: Seaside to Sound Country.
This interview originally aired on UNC-TV on January 17, 2013. For more interviews visit the NC Bookwatch website.