Rare First Edition of Louis Hughes' Thirty Years A Slave: From Bondage to Freedom

  • Thirty Years A Slave: From Bondage to Freedom.
  • Thirty Years A Slave: From Bondage to Freedom.

Thirty Years A Slave: From Bondage to Freedom.

$5,500.00

Item Number: 61007

Milwaukee: South Side Printing Company, 1897.

First edition of Louis Hughes’ autobiography, which Richard Newman has called “the most informative, insightful, and hopeful accounts of how Americans of color created their own freedom in the midst of a slave society.” Octavo, original cloth, frontispiece, floral endpapers. In near fine condition, bookplate to the front gutter, small tape repair. First editions are extremely rare.

Born to a white man and a "negress" and brought up in a beautiful river valley near Charlottesville, Va., Hughes was bought and sold twice by the time he was 11 years old. In this absorbing account, first published in 1897, Hughes describes mundane yet evocative pieces of everyday life (such as drying sweet potatoes to use as a substitute for coffee during the Civil War) and astonishing events like his numerous attempts to escape bondage and his subsequent recapture. He writes with subtlety about his "masters' " hypocrisy, as when "Madam" would smack him during meals: "Truly it was a monstrous domestic institution that not only tolerated, but fostered such an exhibition of table manners by a would-be fine lady-such vulgar spite and cruelty!" "Thirty Years a Slave offers one of the most detailed first-hand descriptions of slavery available in the entire slave narrative tradition. In his under-appreciated autobiography, Louis Hughes accomplishes the remarkable literary feat of recording with equal conviction both the injustices of slavery and the capacities of African Americans, while enduring enslavement, to resist demoralization and victimhood" (William L. Andrews).

Ask a Question