"It is to a great extent, a new book": Josiah Henson, John Lobb and the challenges of white editorship of black texts

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Abstract

Formerly enslaved African American Josiah Henson is well-known for his association with the character of Uncle Tom from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Published in 1852, the literary phenomenon sold millions of copies throughout the nineteenth century, and also made a hero of Henson, who marketed his connection with the novel to great acclaim. However, Henson’s visit to Britain in 1876–1877, his revised edition of his narrative, and the accompanying book The Young People’s Illustrated Edition of Uncle Tom’s Story of His Life (1877) has received scant attention from scholars. This article will be the first to discuss The Young People’s Edition in detail, and how John Lobb, Henson’s benefactor, marketed Henson and his literary work, which demonstrated not only the struggles Black authors faced in a white supremacist environment, but also how activists like Henson managed to retain some sense of authorship over their work.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAtlantic Studies: Literary, Historical and Cultural Perspectives
Early online date14 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • slavery
  • abolition
  • Josiah Henson
  • John Lobb
  • children’s literature
  • antislavery
  • slave narrative
  • Black Atlantic
  • Uncle Tom
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe

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