Synopses & Reviews
William Wells Brown (1814-1884) was a prominent abolitionist lecturer, novelist, playwright, and historian. Born into slavery in the Southern United States, Brown escaped to the North, where he worked for abolitionist causes and was a prolific writer and lecturer. In 1847, he published the Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave, Written by Himself, which became a bestseller second only to Frederick Douglass narrative. He was also a pioneer in several different literary genres, including travel writing, fiction, and drama, and wrote what is considered to be the first novel by an African American: Clotel; or, The Presidents Daughter (1853). However, because the novel was published in England, the book is not the first African-American novel published in the United States. Most scholars agree that Brown is the first published African-American playwright. He wrote two plays, The Experience; or, How to Give a Northern Man a Backbone (1856) and The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom (1858). Brown also wrote several historical works, including: The Black Man: His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements (1863), The Negro in the American Revolution (1867) and The Rising Son (1873).