Black American Poets and Dramatists: Before the Harlem Renaissance

By Harold Bloom | Go to book overview
Save to active project

George Moses Horton

c. 1797-c. 1883

GEORGE MOSES HORTON was born in slavery on the farm of William Horton in Northampton County, North Carolina.The year of his birth is probably 1797, as he states in The Hope of Liberty ( 1829) that he was thirty-two years old. Little is known of Horton's parents; Horton himself says that his mother was forced to leave her husband when Horton was still a boy, and this separation may have been a result of William Horton's transferral of his farm to Chatham County, near Chapel Hill, in 1800. Nevertheless, it was at this time that Horton began gaining a rudimentary education from Wesleyan hymnals and remnants of schoolbooks obtained from white children. Although Horton did not learn to write until years later, as an adolescent he was already composing poems and committing them to memory.

In 1814 Horton became the property of William Horton's son James. At some point during the next five years he became a fruit vendor in the Chapel Hill area, where he met students from the university and recited his poetry for them. The students began asking Horton to write acrostics and love-poems for their girlfriends, paying him fifty or seventy-five cents for each poem. Horton claims to have written dozens of such poems for young men in Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia, but only a few survive. The young men also gave Horton books—including the works of Shakespeare, Milton, Byron, and other poets who would influence Horton's later poetry.

At Chapel Hill Horton also met Caroline Lee Hentz, a poet and novelist who lent him assistance with his work and transcribed some of his poetry. In 1828 she arranged for the publication of two of Horton's poems in a newspaper, the Lancaster ( Mass.) Gazette. At this time Horton was befriended by many abolitionists, who attempted unsuccessfully in 1828 and 1829 to purchase his freedom. Horton's collection of poems, The Hope of Liberty, was published by these abolitionists in the hope of raising enough money to give James Horton the sum he required to liberate Horton.This effort failed, as the book sold few copies; but it constituted the first book

-79-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Black American Poets and Dramatists: Before the Harlem Renaissance
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 145

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?