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The Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slav

William Wells Brown

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .He was formerly from Virginia, and was a horse-racer, cock-fighter, gambler, and withal an inveterate drunkard. There were ten or twelve servants in the house, and when he was present, it was cut and slash—knock down and drag out. In his fits of anger, he would take up a chair, and throw it at a servant; and in his more rational moments, when he wished to chastise one, he would tie them up in the smoke-house, and whip them; after which, he would cause a fire to be made of tobacco stems, and smoke them. This he called "Virginia play."

I complained to my master of the treatment which I received from Major Freeland; but it made no difference. He cared nothing about it, so long as he received the money for my labor. After living with Major Freeland five or six months, I ran away, and went into the woods back of the city; and when night came on, I made my way to my master's farm, but was afraid to be seen, knowing that if Mr. Haskell, the overseer, sho. . . Read More

Community Reviews

If you have not read a slave narrative, this is an excellent one to start with. Brown is a powerful storyteller and writer, and his narrative has both his story and then a couple of speaking engagements/ lectures that he gave. Those are great: he attacks slavery from financial, political, moral, and

This was an interesting narrative, especially if you have read Clotel because you can see some of Brown's influences for different characters here. It isn't as introspective as Douglass or as intertextual as what Brown writes in Clotel, but I think it paints a good picture of what slavery looks like

William Wells Brown was a formidable figure in his day. A well known lecturer in the U.S. and Britain on the abolition of slavery (and women’s rights and temperance too), he was also a pioneering African-American novelist (Clotel), playwright (Experience, or How to Give a Northern Man a Backbone an

This is a fascinating and often thoughtful meditation on Brown's experiences as a slave in Missouri, and his resultant reflections on the institution of slavery. The contrast with Douglass's narrative provides several grounds for interesting comparison. Brown was enslaved to a "slave driver" deliver

Of course, I've read and heard many accounts over the years of the systematic brutalities and humiliations inflicted upon slaves in 19th century America, but there is something particularly chilling about hearing the first-hand accounts of one who endured it. I was much struck by the multiple exampl

Brown's narrative shares none of the US nationalism of other escape narratives. Brown maintained an indifference to the patriotism that motivated other abolitionists. He also hailed from Missouri instead of the Atlantic South, making this unique escape narrative even more exceptional for its betraya

Good read

Solid slave narrative. The beauty of this work is in the way Brown conveys his struggle. A necessary part of the slave cannon.

Very good read, Very informative

I can't believe what slaves went through during that time. In history class in school they teach you very little what they had to endure. This book goes a little deeper than that. It's horrifying that people could be so cruel and inhumane to people because of their co

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