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William Wells Brown

He was born in Lexington, Kentucky. He was accomplished in the area of the Arts. He later died on 11-6-1884.
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Recognized as the first African American novelist, William Wells Brown was born into enslavement in 1814 in Lexington, Kentucky. He was the child of a relative of the white plantation owner and an enslaved woman named Elizabeth. He was hired out to work for the captain of a St. Louis Mississippi steamboat. After a year, he was sent to work at the printing office of Elijah P. Lovejoy, a committed abolitionist.

After working with Lovejoy, he was hired out to work on a steamboat again. During this time, Brown escaped bondage to freedom in January 1834. He adopted the name of a Quaker, Wells Brown, who aided him in his escape. In the summer of 1834, he met and married a free black woman, Elizabeth Schooner. They had three daughters, one of whom died at an early age.

Wells Brown spent the next two years working on a Lake Erie steamboat using his access and knowledge to assist enslaved persons to escape to cities in Canada or to Buffalo, New York. In 1836 Wells Brown moved his family to Buffalo, where he began his career in the abolitionist movement. He regularly attended meetings of the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society, began giving antislavery lectures at local abolitionist gatherings, and acted as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Years later, Wells Brown's daughter would describe their home, at 13 Pine Street in Buffalo as "The Fugitive's House", in recognition of her father's role as an active contributor to the Underground Railroad Movement. Wells Brown, himself, claimed that between May 1842 and December of that year, he helped 69 individuals escape bondage and find freedom in Canada. Wells Brown was also a convenor of the 1843 National Conference of Colored Citizens, held in Buffalo.

Wells Brown left Buffalo about 1844 after two experiences in Attica, New York, and East Aurora, New York. He was invited to lecture on anti-slavery in these small, mostly white communities. In Attica, he was refused lodging in the hotels after his lecture and was forced to sleep on the floor of the church, where he'd lectured. In East Aurora, he was pelted with eggs and other food after his lecture.

Wells Brown's autobiography, Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave, was published in 1847. His novel, Clotel or, the President's Daughter (1853), is recognized as the first novel published by an African American. Wells Brown was also lectured extensively in the states and internationally. He died on November 6, 1884.