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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by DOUGLASS, Frederick (1845)

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Author: DOUGLASS, Frederick
Title: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Year: 1845
Publisher: Webb and Chapman
Place: Dublin, Ireland
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: No
Price: £3000
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xvi, pp 128. Bought from the author himself in England in August 1846, one of the key documents of the American emancipation movement. The first paste-down bears the contemporary inscription: 'Will[ia]m Moore purchased of Frederick Douglass at the Subscription Rooms Exeter 29th 1846 [flourish]' The former slave and abolitionist came to Exeter in the south west England the day before this purchase was made to address the role that the British people could make in abolishing slavery in north America. Douglass's Narrative was first published outside the USA in Ireland during his tour which began the previous year and quickly sold out as the charismatic Douglass distributed copies everywhere he went. This second edition though still dated 1845 contains the first printing of Frederick Douglass's Preface in which the increasingly self-possessed author usurped Garrison's American Preface and for the first time set out the objectives of 'my visit to Great Britain... for it may not be generally known in Europe, that a slave who escapes his master is liable, by the Constitution of the United States, to be dragged back into bondage'. The narrative is followed by an address 'To the Friends of the Slave' and 'Critical Notices' with no portrait of Douglass present, as issued. The book is bound in the publisher's purple blind-stamped cloth, fading to spine which has 'Narrative of Frederick Douglass' in gilt. Yellow coated endpapers but no other traces of the ownership of William Moore of Exeter. A few foxing spot only, otherwise a pleasingly unsophisticated copy with excellent provenance. A few days after Douglass's visit to Exeter the Western Times reported that 'He felt he was not only at liberty, but justified in directing the attention of all the world, and fixing on it [slavery] the indignant eye of condemnation from every portion of the globe.' A modern commentator, Alan Rice, has described Douglass arriving in 'Britain [and Ireland] as raw material of a great black figure; [and leaving] ... in April 1847 the finished independent man, cut from a whole cloth and able to make his own decisions about the strategies and ideologies of the abolitionist movement.' Copac locates no 1845 Dublin editions outside the UK with copies at the Society of Friends; Manchester; Aberdeen, BL, Cambridge, UCL and NLS - SOLO does not locate Oxford.
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