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Clotelle

William Wells Brown

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The Poplar Farm, as it was called, was situated in a beautiful valley, nine miles from Natchez, and near the Mississippi River. The once unshorn face of nature had given way, and the farm now blossomed with a splendid harvest. The neat cottage stood in a grove, where Lombardy poplars lift their tops almost to prop the skies, where the willow, locust, and horse-chestnut trees spread forth their branches, and flowers never ceased to blossom.

This was the parson's country residence, where the family spent only two months during the year. His town residence was a fine villa, seated on the brow of a hill, at the edge of the city.

It was in the kitchen of this house that Agnes found her new home. Mr. Wilson was every inch a democrat, and early resolved that "his people," as he called his slaves, should be well-fed and not over-worked, and therefore laid down the law and gospel to the overseer as well as to the slaves. "It is my wish," said he to Mr. Carlin. . . Read More

Community Reviews

When I read this book for my slave lit class, I was particular affected by the relationship between Clotel and Horatio Green. The “romance” (if you can call it that!) between the two of them both broke my heart and frustrated me to no end! When Green first met Clotel, it seemed like he was sincer...more

"Clotel" is the story of a slave woman who was allegedly the daughter of Thomas Jefferson. At the time the book was published in 1853, rumors were rife about Jefferson's relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings. We now know, through DNA testing, that those rumors were true -- but the author cou...more

William Wells Brown's Clotel is noted as being one of (if not the) first African-American novels ever written. The work focuses on the fictional slave mistress of Thomas Jefferson named Currer(modeled closely on the historical Sally Hemmings) and her two daughters, Althesa and Clotel. The work is...more

spoilers i guess…

real talk: does anyone know the reason william wells brown took all references to thomas jefferson out of the third edition in 1864 and fourth edition in 1867? why did he change the spelling of the title to match the name of his second and youngest child “clotelle brown,” born in...more

How the actual hell have I never heard of this book before?

Clotel: or, the President's Daughter is a masterpiece of historical fiction that rings with historical truth. Based on facts and narratives that William Wells Brown collected on his own journey out of slavery, Clotel unashamedly looks man...more

Historically significant novel about the lives of slaves, written by a former slave. The author states that this fictional story is based on true incidents, making the book even more emotionally heartbreaking. The plot was a bit confusing at times, as it jumped around to each character's separate...more

4.5/5
You may place the slave where you please; you may dry up to your utmost the fountains of his feelings, the springs of his thought; you may yoke him to your labour, as an ox which liveth only to work and worketh only to live; you may put him under any process which, without destroying his val...more

There is something audacious and true about this book, however fictional. The first time I came to the sentence calling Clotel the daughter of Thomas Jefferson I felt the boldness of that sentence, and the truth of it, that it was known even in 1853 that Jefferson had children who were slaves. Th...more

William Wells Brown is an amazing man and author. After having stumbled upon this book, I am sorely disappointed that I have only discovered him now (at age 47 in 2014) - and by accident. I sincerely believe that I should have been introduced to him in public school by the time I was a pre-teen....more

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