May 07, 2020 - Sale 2534

Sale 2534 - Lot 289

Price Realized: $ 5,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,000 - $ 4,000
(LITERATURE.) Brown, William Wells. Clotelle: or, The Colored Heroine, a Tale of the Southern States. Frontispiece plate, plus 4 full-page illustrations. 114 pages. 8vo, publisher's cloth, moderate wear; minor foxing and wear to contents; early ownership inscriptions on front endpapers. In modern cloth slipcase. Boston: Lee & Shepard, 1867

Additional Details

Third edition, and first thus. Brown's novel was originally published in London in 1853 under a different title, "Clotel, or The President's Daughter," incorporating the widespread rumors of Thomas Jefferson and his mistress Sally Hemings. When the book appeared in the United States as a cheap dime-novel in 1864, Clotel had become Clotelle and was a Senator's daughter. By the time the present edition appeared, substantial changes had again been made, with the last part of the book expanded to include the Civil War. Blockson One Hundred and One, 32 ("elusive and priceless"); Sabin 8590 (both describing the London edition). We trace no examples of any edition at auction since a Swann sale, 26 February 1998, lot 30A.
Provenance: This volume was the property of Henry Austin Spencer (circa 1852-1935), who was born into slavery and after the Civil War came north to Albion, NY with a Union officer. He worked as an errand boy at a warehouse owned by Asa Howard, and lived with the family. He became the first African-American graduate of the University of Rochester, and had a long career as a staff member at the state legislature. He served as a pallbearer at the funeral of Frederick Douglass. Asa Howard's wife Thankfull S. Howard (1813-1885) was the original owner of this book; it later came into the possession of their daughter Ellen Sophronia Howard (1845-1901). In 1898, she gave it to old family friend Henry Austin Spencer.