Published in the bicentenary year of Frederick Douglass’s birth and in a Black Lives Matter era, this edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass presents new research into his life as an activist and an author. A revolutionary reformer who traveled in Scotland, Ireland, England, and Wales as well as the US, Douglass published many foreign-language editions of his Narrative. While there have been many Douglasses over the decades and even centuries, the Frederick Douglass we need now is no iconic, mythic, or legendary self-made man but a fallible, mortal, and human individual: a husband, father, brother, and son. His rallying cry inspires today’s activism: “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!”
Recognizing that Douglass was bought and sold on the northern abolitionist podium no less than on the southern auction block, this edition introduces readers to Douglass’s multiple declarations of independence. The Narrative appears alongside his private correspondence as well as the early speeches and writings in which he did justice to the “grim horrors of slavery.” This volume also traces Douglass’s activism and authorship in the context of the reformist work of his wife, Anna Murray, and of his daughters and sons.