Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself, My Bondage and My Freedom, and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself are landmark publications, yet they are not the earliest African American autobiographies. African American prose and more specifically, African American autobiography begin with A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings and Surprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammond, a Negro Man (1760). Hammond’s fourteen-page memoir is the first published slave narrative, and other slave narratives that predate Douglass’s three autobiographies include A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African Prince, as Related by Himself (1772) and The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself (1789). Frances Smith Foster, in Witnessing Slavery: The Development of Ante-bellum Slave Narratives (1979), states that the total number of slave narratives written or dictated in formats ranging from interviews of a single page to books is at least six thousand. However, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is considered the preeminent slave narrative and a classic in American literature. Douglass’s two additional autobiographies are expansions of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
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