Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
  • Publication Date: February 23, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554813421 / 1554813425
  • 280 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

  • Publication Date: February 23, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554813421 / 1554813425
  • 280 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Published in the bicentenary year of Frederick Douglass’s birth and in a Black Lives Matter era, this edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass presents new research into his life as an activist and an author. A revolutionary reformer who traveled in Scotland, Ireland, England, and Wales as well as the US, Douglass published many foreign-language editions of his Narrative. While there have been many Douglasses over the decades and even centuries, the Frederick Douglass we need now is no iconic, mythic, or legendary self-made man but a fallible, mortal, and human individual: a husband, father, brother, and son. His rallying cry inspires today’s activism: “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!”

Recognizing that Douglass was bought and sold on the northern abolitionist podium no less than on the southern auction block, this edition introduces readers to Douglass’s multiple declarations of independence. The Narrative appears alongside his private correspondence as well as the early speeches and writings in which he did justice to the “grim horrors of slavery.” This volume also traces Douglass’s activism and authorship in the context of the reformist work of his wife, Anna Murray, and of his daughters and sons.


“The 2018 Broadview edition of Douglass’s Narrative could not be timelier. Its relevance bears equally and urgently on our own fraught lives and time. Celeste-Marie Bernier has given us a view into the life of the Narrative and its author that is so full and intimate as to make this edition definitive by any standard. In words and images, Bernier’s Douglass—autobiographer, orator, bookseller, family man, fugitive—cuts a bold black figure. No ex-slave or abolitionist ever damned slavery so surely self-possessed.” — Maurice Wallace, University of Virginia

“An outstanding edition from one of the world’s great Douglass scholars. Bernier provides a comprehensive biographical, historical, and literary introduction, numerous illustrations, and a wealth of primary materials that allow readers to develop fresh and exciting political, familial, and trans-Atlantic perspectives on Douglass’s most widely read autobiography.” — Robert S. Levine, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland, and author of The Lives of Frederick Douglass

“Bernier’s edition of Frederick Douglass’s Narrative will immediately establish its place as the most original and timely version of the great black abolitionist’s bestselling text. Without romanticizing Douglass, Bernier uncovers his skills as a self-reflective writer and experimental autobiographer and contextualizes his work within survivor narratives written by slaves and former slaves throughout the Atlantic world. Bernier’s edition of the Narrative is the text for twenty-first-century readers. It reminds us that black lives mattered in Douglass’s day—just as they do today.” — John David Smith, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

List of Illustrations
Frederick Douglass: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Appendix A: European Editions

  1. Title page and frontispiece from the first Dublin edition (1845)
  2. Preface from the first Dublin edition (1845)
  3. Title page and frontispiece from the second Dublin edition (1846)
  4. Title page and frontispiece from the third English edition (1846)
  5. Title page and frontispiece from the Dutch translation (1846)
  6. Title page from the French translation (1848)

Appendix B: Douglass’s Correspondence, 1845–46

  1. To Richard D. Webb, Belfast (6 December 1845)
  2. To Richard D. Webb, Belfast (24 December 1845)
  3. To Richard D. Webb, Perth, Scotland (20 January 1846)
  4. To Richard D. Webb, Dundee, Scotland (10 February 1846)
  5. To Maria Weston Chapman, Kilmarnock, Scotland (29 March 1846)
  6. To Richard D. Webb, Glasgow (16 April [?] 1846)
  7. To William Lloyd Garrison, Glasgow (16 April 1846)
  8. To Richard D. Webb, Glasgow (25 April 1846)

Appendix C: Douglass’s Speeches and Writings

  1. “I Have Come to Tell You Something about Slavery,” Pennsylvania Freeman (20 October 1841)
  2. “Speech of Frederic [sic] Douglass, a Fugitive Slave,” National Anti-Slavery Standard (23 December 1841)
  3. “I Stand Here a Slave,” Liberator (4 and 18 February 1842)
  4. “The Antislavery Movement: The Slave’s Only Earthly Hope,” National Anti-Slavery Standard (18 May 1843)
  5. “Your Religion Justifies Our Tyrants, and You Are Yourselves Our Enslavers,” Herald of Freedom (16 February 1844)
  6. “I Will Venture to Say a Word on Slavery,” National Anti- Slavery Standard (22 May 1845)
  7. “Frederick Douglass in behalf of George Latimer,” Liberator (18 November 1842)
  8. “No Union with Slaveholders,” National Anti-Slavery Standard (25 July 1844)
  9. “The Black Man Was No Less a Man because of His Color,” Pennsylvania Freeman (22 August 1844)
  10. “Slavery and the Annexation of Texas to the United States,” Liberator (12 December 1845)
  11. “The Folly of Our Opponents,” The Liberty Bell (1845)
  12. “To My Old Master,” North Star (8 September 1848)
  13. Letter to Harriet Tubman, Rochester (29 August 1868)

Appendix D: Family

  1. Portraits
  2. Letters from Rosetta Douglass to Frederick Douglass (1845–46)
  3. Letter from Annie Douglass to Frederick Douglass, Rochester (7 December 1859)
  4. Letters from Frederick Douglass to Harriet Bailey / Ruth Cox (1846–47)
  5. Jane Marsh Parker, “Reminiscences of Frederick Douglass” (6 April 1895)
  6. Rosetta Douglass Sprague, My Mother as I Recall Her (10 May 1900)
  7. Lewis Henry Douglass, undated and untitled handwritten statement (c. 1905)

Works Cited and Select Bibliography

Celeste-Marie Bernier is Professor of Black Studies at the University of Edinburgh.