‘Spectacular’ memoir by African American brings readers inside 19th-century prison

January 26, 2016

In a recent YaleNews article Beth Connolly Martell writes:

“The earliest-known prison memoir penned by an African American was published by Random House on Jan. 26, over 150 years after it was originally written.

The Life and Adventures of a Haunted Convict,” written by Austin Reed, describes his experiences while serving time in New York State prison from the 1830s through the 1850s, and paints a portrait of what life was like for Reed both inside and outside of the penitentiary.

The manuscript, which was acquired by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 2009, was edited by Caleb Smith, professor of English and American Studies, and includes a forward by David W. Blight, the Class of 1954 Professor of History and professor of African American studies and of American studies, and Robert Stepto, professor of English, African American studies, and American studies.

YaleNews recently spoke with Smith about the process of editing Reed’s memoir, how the manuscript was deemed to be authentic, and the “literary power” of Reed’s writing.”

For the full YaleNews article and edited conversation with Caleb Smith click here: http://news.yale.edu/2016/01/26/spectacular-memoir-african-american-brings-readers-inside-19th-century-prison

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