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2.0 hours ​(approx.)

The Invention of Wings Book Location

Walking Tour

One of Charleston's newest and most unique tours! The Grimke sisters, Sarah and Angelina  were born into a prominent Charleston family at the turn of the 19th century. They didn't take to the life well, uncomfortable with the role of women in society of the day and appalled by the notion of slavery.  They would eventually become the nation's first female abolitionists and early pioneers of the women's rights movement. In the 1830's, they published an anti-slavery pamphlet that was the most famous treatise on abolition until "Uncle Tom's Cabin" came along.

Sarah Grimke was born in 1792, the sixth child of Judge John Grimke, a planter, lawyer, politician and veteran of the Revolutionary War.  Her mother was the daughter of a prominent South Carolina banker.  From a young age, Sarah was frustrated by the limitations imposed on her by gender. The only thing that upset her more was the way slaves were treated. When she was given a slave girl of her very own, Sarah defied state law and taught her slave to read.


Angelina was born 13 years after Sarah, and shared her views and became even more vocal about it.  Eventually, as adults they left the South and moved to Philadelphia (Sarah left first, Angelina followed several years later). They joined the Quaker movement, but soon found that their beliefs were too much even for the Quakers.  In 1831, they began to read anti-slavery papers. When Angelina wrote to one publication's editor, praising his work, she found her private letter published in a subsequent issue. Soon, Angelina wrote an "Appeal to Southern Women," reminding her audience that although they could not vote, they were the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of the men who made all the decisions.


When her "Appeal" was published in 1837, copies were publicly burned in Charleston. Their mother was warned the sisters would be arrested if they ever showed their face in the Holy City.  When the sisters tried to return for their mother's funeral, word got out in Charleston and there was rioting in the streets.  Eventually, the sisters turned back and returned to the north.  They would never return to Charleston.  Sarah and Angelina ultimately became the first female abolitionist agents in the United States, and agitated for their cause for more for any years, speaking in parlors and churches across the country.


The Grimke sisters were largely forgotten, until Lowcountry author Sue Monk Kidd made the sisters the focus of her new novel, "The Invention of Wings."  The book was listed on the New York Times bestseller list and became a favorite of Oprah Winfrey.  The Grimke Sisters tour focuses on the lives of the Grimke Sisters and covers many of the areas that are featured in Sue Monk Kidd's book.

Sue Monk Kidd with Oprah

Saffron Cafe' and Bakery

333 East Bay Street

Charleston History/Book

Walking Tour

Grimke Sisters

"The Invention of Wings"


Charleston's Premiere Bestselling Book Tour
Relive One of America's Most
Important Stories!
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Please note gratuity is not included in the tour price. Our guides appreciate gratuities or TIPS where earned.

The Grimke Sisters Charleston tour is a walking tour of approx. 1.5 miles.  Please consider this if you have health issue that make walking longer distances problematic.


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