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Frederick Douglass

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and ideas of the prominent abolitionist, who in 1845 told his story in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

In a programme first broadcast in 2018, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and ideas of Frederick Douglass, who was born into slavery in Maryland in 1818 and, once he had escaped, became one of that century's most prominent abolitionists. He was such a good orator, his opponents doubted his story, but he told it in grim detail in 1845 in his book 'Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.' He went on to address huge audiences in Great Britain and Ireland and there some of his supporters paid off his owner, so Douglass could be free in law and not fear recapture. After the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, he campaigned for equal rights for African-Americans, arguing against those such as Lincoln who had wanted freed slaves to leave America and found a colony elsewhere. "We were born here," he said, "and here we will remain."


Celeste-Marie Bernier
Professor of Black Studies in the English Department at the University of Edinburgh

Karen Salt
Assistant Professor in Transnational American Studies at the University of Nottingham


Nicholas Guyatt
Reader in North American History at the University of Cambridge

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

52 minutes

Last on

Thu 11 Jun 2020 21:30


The Frederick Douglass Papers - Library of Congress

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

Frederick Douglass Papers Digital Edition 

Frederick Douglass – Wikipedia



Celeste-Marie Bernier and Bill E. Lawson (eds.), Pictures and Power: Imaging and Imagining Frederick Douglass, 1818-2018 (Liverpool University Press, 2017)

R. J. M. Blackett, Building an Antislavery Wall: Black Americans in the Atlantic Abolitionist Movement, 1830-1860 (Louisiana State University Press, 1983)

David Blight, Frederick Douglass’ Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee (Louisiana State University Press, 1989)

David Blight, Frederick Douglass (Simon & Schuster, forthcoming in 2018)

James A. Colaiaco, Frederick Douglass and the Fourth of July (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

Frederick Douglass (ed. Celeste-Marie Bernier), Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, 1845 (Broadview Press, 2018)

Frederick Douglass (ed. Benjamin Quarles), Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave: Written By Himself (first published 1948; Atheneum, 1969)

Frederick Douglass (eds. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and John Stauffer), The Portable Frederick Douglass (Penguin, 2016)

Phillip S. Foner and Yuval Taylor (eds.), Frederick Douglass: Selected Speeches and Writings (Chicago Review Press, 1999)

Leigh Fought, Women in the World of Frederick Douglass (Oxford University Press, 2017)

Waldo E. Martin Jr., The Mind of Frederick Douglass (University of North Carolina Press, 1985)

Ifeoma Kiddoe Nwankwo, Black Cosmopolitanism: Racial Consciousness and Transnational identity in the Nineteenth-Century Americas (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005)

John Stauffer, Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln (Twelve, 2009)

Fionnghuala Sweeney, Frederick Douglass and the Atlantic World (Liverpool University Press, 2007


Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Celeste-Marie Bernier
Interviewed Guest Karen Salt
Interviewed Guest Nicholas Guyatt
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 8 Feb 2018 09:00
  • Thu 8 Feb 2018 21:30
  • Thu 11 Jun 2020 09:00
  • Thu 11 Jun 2020 21:30

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