Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

by Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself eText - eText

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What is a literary classic and why are these classic works important to the world?

A literary classic is a work of the highest excellence that has something important to say about life and/or the human condition and says it with great artistry. A classic, through its enduring presence, has withstood the test of time and is not bound by time, place, or customs. It speaks to us today as forcefully as it spoke to people one hundred or more years ago, and as forcefully as it will speak to people of future generations. For this reason, a classic is said to have universality.

Frederick Douglass was born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. Douglass was unsure of his year of birth, which is perhaps also a commentary on the amount of knowledge allowed to slaves. When he was a young boy, Douglass was sent to Baltimore as a house servant. It was during this time that he learned to read and write under the tutelage of his master’s wife. He escaped from slavery in 1838 and fled to New York City. After marrying his wife, Anna Murray, the two traveled to Bedford, Massachusetts, where he began a successful career in public speaking and advocating abolitionism. Following the Civil War, Douglass was secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission, marshal and recorder of deeds of Washington, D.C, and the United States Minister to Haiti. Among his other works are the autobiographical My Bondage and My Freedom (1851) and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881). Douglass died of natural causes in 1895.