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African American Heritage Week: William Wells Brown

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This week, I'm dedicating my posts to African American heritage, and I'll be highlighting some of the figures from American history that you may not have heard of. The first of these figures is the controversial novelist, William Wells Brown.

Brown was born into slavery in either 1814 or 1815, to a Kentucky-based slave named Elizabeth and George W. Higgins, a white planter. His father did acknowledge him formally as a son, but Brown was sold by his master, anyway. After his time spent working on steamboats near St. Louis, Brown attempted to escape with his mother, but was caught in Illinois. When he escaped again in 1834, Brown was successful in breaking free of slavery. He took the name of a friend who helped him escape, and began his education, eventually finding work in the printing office of Elijah Lovejoy, the abolitionist.

Brown went to England with his two daughters in 1849, where he became an active abolitionist and began to write his famous works, the best known of which is "Clotel", or, "The President's Daughter: a Narrative of Slave Life in the United States." The novel is a fictional narrative, following the lives of the very real daughters of former President Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Heming. The novel is widely credited with being the first novel written by an African American.

Don't forget to submit your own writing about African American heritage to the February contest!*Admin: I am not eligible for this contest.

Photo: Wiki Commons  - Public Domain License

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