Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Novel BondageSlavery, Marriage, and Freedom in Nineteenth-Century America$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Tess Chakkalakal

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036330

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036330.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 28 May 2022

Between Fiction and Experience

Between Fiction and Experience

William Wells Brown’s Clotel

(p.15) 1. Between Fiction and Experience
Novel Bondage

Tess Chakkalakal

University of Illinois Press

This chapter reads William Wells Brown's preoccupation with marriage through both his fictional and autobiographical accounts of slavery. Generally believed to be the first novel by an African American, Brown's Clotel; or, The President's Daughter continues to be the subject of considerable critical controversy and debate. Of course, the source of the novel's controversy rests not on marriage but rather on its absence. Purporting to tell the stories of Thomas Jefferson's slave mistress, daughters, and granddaughters, Clotel provides one of the earliest fictional accounts of the now scientifically verified conjugal relationship between the nation's founding father Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings. Moving from this scandalous piece of the nation's history, Brown's romance provides something of an antidote to history. Relying, in part, on the lessons of Brown's own marriages, this chapter's analysis of his fiction rests on the disjunction between his autobiographical and fictional accounts of slave-marriage.

Keywords:   William Wells Brown, Clotel, slavery, Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, slave-marriages

Illinois Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.