On Wednesday, March 21, Old Main Chapel, Dolen Perkins-Valdez spoke about interracial and interculture relationships during the late 1800s, which is the time period her book “Wench” takes place.
“Wench” follows the lives of three slave women who are taken to Tawawa Springs, Ohio, for the weekends by their owners to have relations at the Tawawa Springs hotel.
The word wench has a negative connotation attached to it, and Perkins knew it would be controversial to name her book after such a word. But, once she got acceptance from the older black generation of women readers, she knew it was not as controversial as she thought.
Perkins wanted to write about stories that were often untold during slavery, such as relationships between slaves, and relationships between slaves and their owners.
Perkins did thorough research on Tawawa Springs and found that this is where owners took their slaves for the weekend so they could have their affairs.
After Tawawa Springs closed, the hotel was turned into Wilberforce, the “first free school for colored children,” but a fire destroyed the original building, which meant that original documents were also destroyed along with it.
After much research, she found that most history was not documented about slaves, but Perkins was still able to uncover the secrets of Tawawa Springs, and what happened there during the late 1800s.