Brown, William Wells. (ca 1815 - 1884).
L i f e
- son of a black slave and a white slave-owning father
- escaped and adopted the name of a Quaker friend helping him to his freedom (dedicated him his first autobiographical book)
- supported the abolitionists: an eloquent speaker, became a lecturing agent for the NY Anti-Slavery Society, and spread the abolitionist ideas also in Europe
W o r k
- pioneered different genres in Afro-American literature: fiction, drama, and travel writing
William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave (1847)
Three Years in Europe (1852)
My Southern Home (1880):
- all the above are autobiographies and travel accounts
- also include fine sketches of the black folk culture
Clotel; or, The President's Daughter (1853):
- the first novel published by an Afro-American
- concern: T. Jefferson’s relationship with the slave woman Sally Hemmings and their imaginary daughter
The Escape; or, a Leap for Freedom (1858):
- the first play published by an Afro-American
- dramatisation of his autobiography
- an indictment of religious hypocrisy
"Thirteen years ago, I came to your door, a weary fugitive from chains and stripes. I was a stranger and you took me in. I was hungry, and you fed me. Naked was I, and you clothed me. Even a name by which to be known among men, slavery had denied me. You bestowed upon me your own. Base indeed should I be, if I ever forget what I owe to you, or do anything to disgrace that honored name"!
From the dedication of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave (1847).
(Picture: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorWilliam Wells Brown. (ca 1815 - 1884). African-American.
WorkAbolitionist. Novelist. Playwright. Author of the first novel published by an Afro-American.
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