Book cover of William Wells Brown: An African American Life by Ezra Greenspanby Ezra Greenspan

A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist ‘Biography’

A groundbreaking biography of the most pioneering and accomplished African-American writer of the nineteenth century.

Born into slavery in Kentucky, raised on the Western frontier on the farm adjacent to Daniel Boone’s, “rented” out in adolescence to a succession of steamboat captains on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the young man known as “Sandy” reinvented himself as “William Wells” Brown after escaping to freedom. He lifted himself out of illiteracy and soon became an innovative, widely admired, and hugely popular speaker on antislavery circuits (both American and British) and went on to write the earliest African American works in a plethora of genres: travelogue, novel (the now canonized Clotel), printed play, and history. He also practiced medicine, ran for office, and campaigned for black uplift, temperance, and civil rights.

Interview with the Author

Podcast art for Your Weekly ConstitutionalYour Weekly Constitutional 
William Wells Brown
1/23/15         79 min


Awards & Prizes


BISAC Biography & Autobiography


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