“Only By Experience”: An Anthology of Slave Narratives
  • Publication Date: June 30, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781554816415 / 1554816416
  • 625 pages; 6" x 9"

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“Only By Experience”: An Anthology of Slave Narratives

  • Publication Date: June 30, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781554816415 / 1554816416
  • 625 pages; 6" x 9"

The historical and literary importance that slave narratives—the autobiographical accounts written by formerly enslaved people in the United States and throughout the Atlantic world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—wielded in their own time and continue to wield in ours is difficult to overstate. Popular and widely read on both sides of the Atlantic, slave narratives played an indispensable role in the campaigns against slavery in Britain and the United States and in the development of a black literary tradition, and they continue to be widely read and to shape popular understandings and memories of slavery today. “Only By Experience”: An Anthology of Slave Narratives collects, in whole or in part, sixteen of the most significant and influential slave narratives in English. Based on material from the acclaimed Broadview Anthology of British Literature and Broadview Anthology of American Literature, the anthology includes works from the British Empire as well as the United States and puts classic examples of the slave narrative genre in conversation with works that raise questions about how the genre is defined. The anthology also features thorough headnotes and annotations for each work, as well as detailed contextual materials for many of the works included.


COMMENTS ON The Broadview Anthology of American Literature

“The expansion, diversification, and revitalization of the texts and terms of American literary history in recent years is made marvelously accessible in the … new Broadview Anthology of American Literature.” — Hester Blum, Penn State University

The Broadview Anthology of American Literature is, quite simply, a breakthrough. … Meticulously researched and expertly assembled, this anthology should be the new gold standard for scholars and teachers alike.” — Michael D’Alessandro, Duke University

“So much thought has been put into every aspect of the Broadview Anthology of American Literature, from the selection of texts to their organization to their presentation on the page; it will be a gift to classrooms for years to come.” — Lara Langer Cohen, Swarthmore College

“The multiplicity of early American locations, languages, and genres is here on wondrous display.” — Jordan Alexander Stein, Fordham University

“Above all, this is a volume for the 21st century. … Its capaciousness and ample resource materials make for a text that is always evolving and meeting its readers in new ways.” — Russ Castronovo, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“a rich collection that reflects the diversity of American literatures…. [and] that never forgets its most important audience: students. There is a wealth of material here that will help them imagine and reimagine what American literature could be.” — Michael C. Cohen, UCLA


James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, from A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Gronniosaw, an African Prince, as related by Himself

Briton Hammon, A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings and Surprising Deliverance of Briton Hammon, A Negro

Boyrereau Brinch, from The Blind African Slave, or Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nick-named Jeffrey Brace

Venture Smith, A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, A Native of Africa

Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

  • In Context:
    • Equiano’s Narrative as a Philadelphia Abolitionist Pamphlet
    • Reactions to Olaudah Equiano’s Work

Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince, A West African Slave, Related by Herself

  • In Context:
    • Mary Prince’s Petition Presented to Parliament
    • from Thomas Pringle, Supplement to the History of Mary Prince
    • from The Narrative of Ashton Warner

David George, An Account of the Life of Mr. David George, from Sierra Leone in Africa

Solomon Northrup, from 12 Years a Slave

  • In Context
    • Roaring River [sheet music]
    • Solomon Northrup in the Popular Press

Sojourner Truth, from The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, A Northern Slave

  • In Context
    • Speech at the Akron, Ohio Women’s Rights Convention
    • Sojourner Truth’s Cartes de Viste

Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written By Herself

  • In Context
    • Fugitive Slave Advertisement for Harriet Jacobs
    • from Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, with Harriet Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland, “The Affectionate and Christian Address of Many Thousands of Women of Great Britain and Ireland to Their Sisters the Women of the United States of America”
    • from Julia Tyler, “To the Duchess of Sutherland and the Ladies of England,” Southern Literary Messenger
    • from Harriet Jacobs, “Letter from a Fugitive Slave,” New York Daily Tribune

from The Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada

  • William Johnson
  • Harriet Tubman
  • John W. Lindsey
  • from William Grose

William Wells Brown, from The Narrative of the Life and Escape of William Wells Brown

Frederick Douglass

  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Written by Himself
  • from My Bondage and My Freedom
  • from Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
  • In Context
    • Margaret Fuller, Review of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, from The New York Tribune
    • A.C.C. Thompson, “To the Public. Falsehood Refuted,” from The Delaware Republican, reprinted in The Liberator
    • Frederick Douglass, “Reply to Mr. A.C.C. Thompson,” The Liberator
    • To My Old Master
    • Photographs of Frederick Douglass

William and Ellen Craft, from Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom