Williams Wells Brown – Novelist

We have talked about some of the first black poets. Now, Williams Wells Brown is considered the first African American to publish a novel (recorded). Brown was born into slavery to a black mother and a white slave owner. Wells served various masters before escaping slavery in 1834. He then took on the name of a Quaker who helped him in his escape, Wells Brown, and in 1847 published a slave narrative, A Fugitive Slave. Brown’s only novel, Clotel was published in 1853 and tells the story of the daughters and granddaughters of President Thomas Jefferson and his slave woman. Wells also wrote a play “The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom” in 1858, along with other historical writings.

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