A symbol of the strength of African American women and a champion of the rights of all women, Sojourner Truth was an illiterate former slave named Isabella who transformed herself into a vastly powerful orator. Truth's magnetism brought her fame in her own time, and her story gives us a vivid picture of nineteenth-century life in the North, where blacks, enslaved or free, lived in relative isolation from one another. This volume contains the "Book of Life", including the "Ar'n't I a Woman" speech as well as "A Memorial Chapter" about her death. 264 pages, softcover.
Truth's landmark slave narrative chronicles her experiences as a slave in upstate New York and her transformation into an extraordinary abolitionist, feminist, orator, and preacher. Based on the complete 1884 edition, this volume includes the "Book of Life," a collection of letters and sketches about Truth's life written subsequent to the original 1850 publication of the Narrative, and "A Memorial Chapter," a sentimental account of her death.
Sojourner Truth, born Isabella, a slave in Ulster County, New York, around 1797, became an abolitionist, orator, and preacher, and eventually an icon for strong black women. She was emancipated by state law in 1827, and the following year she moved to New York City, where she found work in wealthy households and became increasingly involved in unorthodox religious groups. In the early 1830s she joined the commune or "Kingdom" of the Prophet Matthias. By 1843 she had transformed herself into the itinerant preacher Sojourner Truth, and spent most of the next thirteen years in Northampton, Massachusetts. Illiterate, she dictated her autobiography to her neighbor Olive Gilbert, and the Narrative of Sojourner Truth was published in 1850. The following year Truth set out to promote her book and to speak out on abolition and womens rights. In the 1870s Truths friend and informal manager Frances Titus compiled a new edition of the Narrative, adding the "Book of Life," a scrapbook comprising essays, articles, and letters from Truths contemporary admirers. Truth died in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1883, and the following year Titus published a new edition that included "A Memorial Chapter."
Nell Irvin Painter is the author of Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol and Standing at Armageddon, the United States, 1877-1919, The Narrative of Hosea Hudson and Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction. She is Edwards Professor of History at Princeton University, where she currently heads the program in African-American Studies.
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