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Henry Box Brown

From Slavery to Show Business

Kathleen Chater (author)

ISBN: 9781476679228

Publication Date: Sep 2020

Format: Paperback

Tells the story of Henry Box Brown, concentrating on the relatively unknown period of his life in Britain, detailing both how he was received and how he developed as a performer. It is the biography of a brave, intelligent individualist, the first black man to achieve landmarks in British law and entertainment.
£39.95

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Henry Box Brown is well-known in America for remarkably escaping slavery by being nailed up in a box and posted from Virginia to Philadelphia. The passing of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 made it unsafe for Brown to remain in America so he relocated to England. There, he had a very successful career, initially as a speaker on abolitionism, before he began speaking on other subjects and then branched out into other forms of entertainment including as a magician. He married again to Jane Floyd, who, along with their children, appeared in his acts. With his wife and surviving children, he returned to America in 1875 finally moving to Canada, where he died.

This book tells his story, concentrating on the relatively unknown period of his life in Britain, detailing both how he was received and how he developed as a performer. It is the biography of a brave, intelligent individualist who was always willing to learn and to take chances, becoming the first black man to achieve landmarks in British law and entertainment.
Illustrations 22 photos
Pages 267
Dimensions 229 x 152 x 14
Date Published 30 Sep 2020
Publisher McFarland
Subject/s British & Irish history   Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900   History of the Americas   Slavery & abolition of slavery   Biography & True Stories   Conjuring & magic  
  • Acknowledgments v
  • A Note on the Name vi
  • Preface 1
  • Prologue 9
  • Act 1: Liberty 31
  • Scene 1: A New Land, a New Life 31
  • Scene 2: Wolverhampton, 1852 59
  • Scene 3: New Directions 80
  • Act 2: Partnership 95
  • Scene 4: Love in the West Country 95
  • Scene 5: More New Directions 111
  • Act 3: Magic 145
  • Scene 6: Goodbye to Enslavement 145
  • Scene 7: A Home in Manchester 172
  • Epilogue 185
  • Appendix: Timeline of Henry Box Brown's Life 201
  • Notes 229
  • Bibliography 249
  • Index 255
Kathleen Chater worked at the BBC until 1994 and is now an independent scholar who lives in London. She has written numerous books, articles and reviews on a wide range of historical topics.

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