In 2018, Ta-Nehisi Coates—a National Book Award-winning author whose work has been lauded by Toni Morrison and recognized with a MacArthur Fellowship—visited Monticello as he was researching The Water Dancer. He was deeply impacted by what he saw and heard here.

Described by Oprah Winfrey as "one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life," The Water Dancer tells the story of a young boy born into slavery on a Virginia plantation and the mysterious power he discovers.

Powerful stories

The themes in The Water Dancer are echoed at Monticello. Stories of enslaved individuals here mirror those of Hiram Walker, Ta-Nehisi Coates's "Water Dancer," who forged powerful family bonds.

See for yourself

Today, visitors to Monticello encounter new stories, new voices, and newly-restored spaces. We believe in sharing an honest, complicated, and inclusive narrative of American history—common ground for all Americans.

The Mysteries at Site 6

Archaeological Clues About Slavery at Monticello (from the Winter 2018 issue of Monticello Magazine)

The Water Dancer

The Water Dancer is a propulsive, transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen.