The Exceedingly Rare First Edition of
[Slavery Narrative]. Josiah Henson. The Life of Josiah
Henson, formerly a slave, now an inhabitant of Canada,
as narrated by himself. Boston: Arthur D. Phelps, 1849. The
very rare first edition (only one other copy has appeared at
auction in the last thirty years). Twelvemo. [iv], 76 pages.
Original printed wrappers. Rear wrapper lacking, some moderate
soiling and wear to front wrapper, some minor occasional wear,
foxing and soiling in text, two leaves chipped at fore-edge (no
loss of text). Overall, a very good copy.
Josiah Henson's Slave Narrative, Henson
Himself Being the Basis of "Uncle Tom"
in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Novel
Josiah Henson (1789-1883) was born into slavery in Maryland, from whence he escaped into Canada (with his family) in 1830. He served as Captain of the Essex Coloured Volunteers during the Canadian Rebellion of 1837, and he was also a conductor of the Underground Railroad, helping bring fugitive slaves to freedom in Canada. This is the first edition of the first version of his autobiography - he later published two revised and expanded versions (under different titles) in 1858 and 1876.
However, he is probably best known as the basis of the character of "Uncle Tom" from Uncle Tom's Cabin, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, and published in 1852. Stowe had interviewed him while researching her landmark anti-slavery novel, and was impressed by his deeply religious nature and his antipathy toward violence, lending "Uncle Tom" these qualities. Although he and Stowe had initially denied his involvement in Uncle Tom's Cabin, they eventually acknowledged his participation (his second autobiography was titled, Uncle Tom's Story of His Life: An Autobiography of the Rev. Josiah Henson (1876)).
Sabin 31432. Not in Howes.
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