The Works of William Wells Brown: Using His "Strong, Manly Voice"

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The Works of William Wells Brown: Using His "Strong, Manly Voice"

EDITORS: PAULA GARRETT AND HOLLIS ROBBINS

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2006

PRICE: $19.00

ISBN: 0-195-30963-4

In this collection of past publications called The Works of William Wells Brown: Using His "Strong, Manly Voice" Paula Garrett and Hollis Robbins have brought together a splendid selection from the totality of the writings having William Wells Brown as their author. This is the first time a single volume has been designed with the primary purpose to exhibit, and to focus attention upon, Brown's writings. When the collection named was published in 2006, Paula Garrett was a professor of English and American Studies at Millsaps College, Jackson, MS, while Hollis Robbins was a member of the Humanities Faculty at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.

William Wells Brown was a nineteenth century black American intellectual, abolitionist orator, and man of letters. It is possible that he was also the first black American to earn a living from oration and publication. He was born in, or near, 1814 in Lexington, KY, and he died 6 November 1884 in Chelsea, near Boston, MA. Legally, in relation to United States law, he was born into bondage, or, that is, he was born a slave person: his father was white, but his mother was a black slave, so he took the status of his mother. In 1834, he escaped bondage. For the twenty-year period of time from 1834 to 1854, he was a fugitive slave so-called; then, in 1854, he passed from being a slave person to being a free person when some of his British friends bought his freedom. In 1843, he began giving orations for the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society, and, in 1849, representing the American Peace Society, he departed from the United States to attend the International Peace Congress held in Paris, France. In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act was put into law, and, because he did not want to be returned to bondage, he travelled to England and remained there until 1854. In the United States once again, he continued speaking against black American slavery until 1866. Otherwise, in 1847, Brown wrote the first of his more than one autobiographies The Narrative of William W. Wells, A Fugitive Slave, Written By Himself," in 1853, he wrote Clotel; or, the President's Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States; and, in 1858, he wrote The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom. (See, for example, Works, the introduction.) Brown's Narrative occupies a place within the tradition of black American slave narratives next to others published during the period of time, inclusively, 1840-1850: for example, it takes its place next to the autobiographies of Frederick Douglass (1845), Henry Bibb (1849), J. W. C. Pennington (1849), Nancy Prince (1850), and Sojourner Truth (1850). His Clotel is regarded by some as the first novel having a black American author. His Escape is regarded by some as the first drama having a black American author. In The Works of William Wells Brown, the several selections are arranged into seven separate parts. In part one, there are five works set out under the heading "Speeches," in part two, two works, under the heading "Autobiographical Writings;" in part three, two works, under the heading "Travel Writings;" in part four, two works, under the heading "Fiction;" in part five, three works, under the heading "Writing Race and Gender;" in part six, four works, under the heading "Selected Letters;" and, in part seven, four works, under the heading "Teaching William Wells Brown.:

In The Works of William Wells Brown, then, counting repetitions, there are twenty-two works written by William Wells Brown. One of the pieces appearing in part seven is a repetition of part of The Escape; another one there is a repetition of part of My Southern Home. Within each part, other than part five, the several selections are arranged strictly in order of time. …