Rethinking the Slave Narrative: Slave Marriage and the Narratives of Henry Bibb and William and Ellen Craft

Synopsis

The African American slave narrative is popularly viewed as the story of a lone male's flight from slavery to freedom, best exemplified by the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave (1845). But in stressing Douglass's narrative as a model for the genre, scholars have ignored the formal and thematic importance of marriage and family in the slave narrative. This book examines the central role of marriage in The Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave (1849) and Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; or the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery (1860). In doing so, the volume points to the influence of those narratives on the later fiction of Douglass, William Wells Brown, and Martin Delany, and invites a reexamination of current assumptions about slave narratives.