Slave Narratives

When did the first known slave narrative written by a black American appear?

A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa: But Resident Above Sixty Years in the United States of America Related by Himself, published in 1798, was the first slave narrative written by a black American. The work is also important because it illustrates the life of slave and free blacks in Connecticut during the eighteenth century. Venture (Broteer Smith; 1729–1805) recalls his royal descent in Africa, his slavery in Connecticut and Long Island, New York, and his prosperity after he was able to purchase his freedom by the age of forty-six. There are precursors to Venture’s narrative, but they were written down by whites, like Some Memoirs of the Life of Job (1734), by Thomas Bluett; difficult to credit fully, like A Narrative of the Lord’s Dealings with John Marrant (1789); or complete fictions. The author of the very important The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1789) spent only a few days in the American Colonies.


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