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Three Years in Europe

William Wells Brown

Book Overview: 

William Wells Brown was born a slave, near Lexington, Kentucky. His mother, Elizabeth, was a slave–his father a white man who never acknowledged his paternity. Brown escaped slavery at about the age of 20. For many years he worked as a steamboatman and as a conductor for the Underground Railroad in Buffalo, New York. In 1843, he became a lecturer for the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society, and was a contemporary of Frederick Douglass.

Brown went to Europe in 1849 to encourage British support for the anti-slavery movement in the United States. He remained there until 1854 when British abolitionists purchased his freedom. Soon afterward, he returned to the United States to continue his work in the abolitionist movement.

Three Years In Europe; Or, Places I Have Seen and People I Have Met is a series of letters that Brown wrote to certain of his friends. A few were destined for publication in The Liberator, the famed abolitionist journal published by Frederick Douglass. In the letters, Brown described his impressions while traveling across Europe, meeting and sharing his experiences first as a slave and then as a fugitive.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Who's got my boy? Is this the right train?" "What is that lady going to do with all these children?" asked the guard. "Is she a delegate: are all the children delegates?" In the carriage where I had taken my seat was a good-looking lady who gave signs of being very much annoyed. "It is just so when I am going anywhere: I never saw the like in my life," said she. "I really wish I was at home again."

An hour had now elapsed, and we were still at the station. However, we were soon on our way, and going at express speed. In passing through Kent we enjoyed the scenery exceedingly, as the weather was altogether in our favour; and the drapery which nature hung on the trees, in the part through which we passed, was in all its gaiety. On our arrival at Folkstone, we found three steamers in readiness to convey the party to Boulogne. As soon as the train stopped, a general rush was made for the steamers; and in a very short time the one in whic. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Very interesting: another fascinating insight into western society in the 19th century, this time from the point of view of a self-educated ex-slave, campaigning for the abolition of slavery. He views the great palaces and cathedrals of the west with wonder: seemingly unaware that these riches are t