Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Booknotes: Women in the World of Frederick Douglass

New Arrival:
Women in the World of Frederick Douglass by Leigh Fought (Oxford Univ Pr, 2017).

The first of its kind, this new study examines the life of Frederick Douglass through the lens of the women he encountered during his lifetime. In his public and private lives, the famous abolitionist "relied on a complicated array of relationships with women: white and black, slave-mistresses and family, political collaborators and intellectual companions, wives and daughters."

Author Lee Fought "begins with the women he knew during his life as a slave: his mother, from whom he was separated; his grandmother, who raised him; his slave mistresses, including the one who taught him how to read; and his first wife, Anna Murray, a free woman who helped him escape to freedom and managed the household that allowed him to build his career.

Continuing from the description: "Fought examines Douglass's varied relationships with white women—including Maria Weston Chapman, Julia Griffiths, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Ottilie Assing—who were crucial to the success of his newspapers, were active in the antislavery and women's movements, and promoted his work nationally and internationally. She also considers Douglass's relationship with his daughter Rosetta, who symbolized her parents' middle class prominence but was caught navigating between their public and private worlds. Late in life, Douglass remarried to a white woman, Helen Pitts, who preserved his papers, home, and legacy for history."

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