William Wells Brown

William Wells Brown

William Wells Brown was a prominent abolitionist lecturer, novelist, playwright, and historian. Born into slavery in the Southern United States, Brown escaped to the North, where he worked for abolitionist causes and was a prolific writer. Brown was a pioneer in several different literary genres, including travel writing, fiction, and drama, and wrote what is considered to be the first novel by an African American. An almost exact contemporary of Frederick Douglass, Wells Brown was overshadowed by Douglass and the two feuded publicly.

  • Nationality: American
  • Birth Date: 6 Nov 1816
  • Death Date: 6 Nov 1884
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Clotel; or, The President's Daughter (1853)
Clotel; or, The President's Daughter is a novel by William Wells Brown (1815 – 1884), a fugitive from slavery and abolitionist and was published in London, England in December 1853. It gained notoriety amid the unconfirmed rumors regarding Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. Brown was still considered someone else's legal property within the borders of the United States at the time of its publication. It is considered to be the first novel written by an African American. The book follows the experiences of three generations of women during slavery. Brown used the injustices of slavery to demonstrate the destructive effects it had on the African American family, most significantly the so–called tragic mulatto. Brown had escaped from slavery in Kentucky while still in his youth, and became active on the anti–slavery circuit.