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'It was said to me, "Better have a little of the plantation manner of speech than not; 'tis not best that you seem too learned."' Appearing in 1855, My Bondage and My Freedom is the second autobiography written by Frederick Douglass (1818-95), a man who was born into slavery in Maryland and who went on to become the most famous antislavery author, orator, philosopher, essaysist, historian, intellectual, statesman and freedom-fighter in US history. An instant bestseller, Douglass's autobiography tells the story of his early life as lived in 'bondage' and of his later life as lived in a 'freedom' that was in name only. Recognizing that his body and soul were bought and sold by white slaveholders in the US South, he soon realized his story was being traded by white northern antislavery campaigners. Douglass's My Bondage and My Freedom is a literary, intellectual and philosophical tour-de-force in which he betrays his determination not only to speak but to write 'just the word that seemed to me the word to be written by me.' This new edition examines Douglass's biography, literary strategies and political activism alongside his depiction of Black women's lives and his narrative histories of Black heroism. This volume also reproduces Frederick Douglass's only work of fiction, The Heroic Slave, published in 1853.
About the Author
Frederick Douglass Celeste-Marie Bernier is Professor of United States and Atlantic Studies at the University of Edinburgh. A winner of the Philip Leverhulme Prize, her research is rooted in the fields of literary studies, slavery studies, African American studies, and African Diasporic Studies. She is the author of several books, including including Characters of Blood: Black Heroism in the Transatlantic Imagination (University of Virginia Press, 2012; winner of the 2013 British Association for American Studies Book Prize) and Stick to the Skin: Representing the Body, Memory, and History in Fifty Years of African American and Black British Visual Arts (University of California Press 2018), and has published extensively on Frederick Douglass. She is also the Co-Editor-in Chief of the Journal of American Studies, published by CUP.