The culmination of William Wells Brown's long writing career, My
is the story of Brown's search for a home in a
land of slavery and racism. Brown (1814-84), a prolific and
celebrated abolitionist and writer often recognized as the first
African American novelist for his Clotel
(1853), was born
enslaved in Kentucky and escaped to Ohio in 1834.
In this comprehensive edition, John Ernest acts as a surefooted
guide to this seminal work, beginning with a substantial
introduction placing Brown's life and work in cultural and
historical context. Brown addresses from a post-emancipation
vantage point his early experiences and understanding of the world
of slavery and describes his travels through many southern states.
The text itself is presented in its original form, while Ernest's
annotations highlight its layered complexity and document the many
instances in which Brown borrows from his own earlier writings and
the writings of others to form an underlying dialogue. This edition
sheds new light on Brown's literary craft and provides readers with
the maps they need to follow Brown on his quest for home in the
chaotic social landscape of American southern culture in the final
decades of the nineteenth century.