cover of book

To Tell a Free Story: The First Century of Afro-American Autobiography, 1760-1865
by William L. Andrews
University of Illinois Press, 1986
eISBN: 978-0-252-05463-1 | Cloth: 978-0-252-01222-8 | Paper: 978-0-252-06033-5
Library of Congress Classification E185.96.A57 1986
Dewey Decimal Classification 973.0496022

To Tell A Free Story traces in unprecedented detail the history of Black autobiography from the colonial era through Emancipation. Beginning with the 1760 narrative by Briton Hammond, William L. Andrews explores first-person public writings by Black Americans. Andrews includes but also goes beyond slave narratives to analyze spiritual biographies, criminal confessions, captivity stories, travel accounts, interviews, and memoirs. As he shows, Black writers continuously faced the fact that northern whites often refused to accept their stories and memories as sincere, and especially distrusted portraits of southern whites as inhuman. Black writers had to silence parts of their stories or rely on subversive methods to make facts tellable while contending with the sensibilities of the white editors, publishers, and readers they relied upon and hoped to reach.

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