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History Pre-confederation (to 1867)

Steal Away Home

One Woman's Epic Flight to Freedom - And Her Long Road Back to the South

by (author) Karolyn Smardz Frost

Initial publish date
Jan 2017
Pre-Confederation (to 1867), African American Studies
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2017
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2018
    List Price

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For readers of The Underground Railroad, The Known World, Bound for Canaan and The Book of Negroes comes the harrowing story of fifteen-year-old escaped slave Cecelia Reynolds, who slips away to freedom in Canada only to return to her childhood home as a free woman many years later.

“Karolyn Smardz Frost deftly situates Cecelia in history. Her evocative descriptions of landscapes and cityscapes capture the various times and places of Cecelia’s story.” —Winnipeg Free Press

In this compelling work of narrative non-fiction, Governor General’s Award winner Karolyn Smardz Frost captures Cecelia’s epic story of courage. She was a teenager when she made her dangerous bid for freedom. Escape meant that she would never see her mother or brother again. She would be cut off from Fanny, the young mistress with whom she grew up, but who also owned her. This was a time when people could be property, and when a beloved father could be separated from his wife and children, to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Cecelia found a new life in Toronto’s vibrant African-American expatriate community. There she fell in love with her dashing rescuer, and initiated a correspondence with her former owner that would endure for more than two decades. Widowed, she braved the Fugitive Slave Law to cross back into the United States. When she eventually returned to the Kentucky she had known as a child, she found her home much changed in the wake of war. Reunited with her mother, Cecelia also renewed her complicated relationship with her former mistress. After years apart, the two lived within a few blocks of each other until Fanny’s death.

Smardz Frost’s impeccable research and vivid description takes the reader through the Civil War, the shameful backdrop of slavery and the very real and stirring tale of one woman’s struggle for freedom—and her return to her former home on her own terms, despite the risk involved.


About the author


  • Unknown, Atlantic Book Awards
  • Unknown, Speaker's Literary Award
  • Unknown, Heritage Toronto Book Award
  • Unknown, J.J. Talman Award of the Ontario Historical Society

Editorial Reviews

“Frost’s calmness puts the reader at ease in the passenger seat. . . . Steal Away Home completely embodies the definition of one’s life being bittersweet.”

<em>The Chronicle Herald</em>

“Karolyn Smardz Frost deftly situates Cecelia in history. Her evocative descriptions of landscapes and cityscapes capture the various times and places of Cecelia’s story.”

<em>Winnipeg Free Press</em>

I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land is a fascinating tale that looks at . . . history from a fresh perspective. A key point, often forgotten in our rush to praise the Underground Railroad, is emphasized here—that the real heroes were the slaves themselves, who risked everything for freedom.”

<em>Quill & Quire</em>, on <em>I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land</em>

“Karolyn Smardz Frost wants readers to look beyond the stories of escaped slaved and the Underground Railroad to the ordinary—sometimes extraordinary—lives these individuals managed to build.”

<em>Literary Review of Canada</em>

“A triumphant blend of archaeological and historical research with literary story-telling. Moving and informative in the best sense, [I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land] will become an instant classic.”

Governor General's Award for Non-fiction Jury Citation for <em>I've Got a Home in Glory Land</em>

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