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The Unboxing of Henry Brown
By Jeffrey Ruggles
The Unboxing of Henry Brown documents the amazing life of Henry Box Brown, the daring fugitive who shipped himself out of slavery in a sealed box. Based on more than a decade of research in the United States and England, Jeffrey Ruggles tells the dramatic but true story of Brown, an industrial slave in Virginia, an abolitionist activist in New England, and a performer for a quarter-century on the English stage.
More than a century-and-a-half later, the man who escaped bondage in a box has become an enduring symbol of African American resistance to slavery and of the Underground Railroad, yet his later career as a speaker and performer is largely unknown to the general public. Ruggles reveals that Brown's life encompassed far more than just his famous passage to freedom. The Unboxing of Henry Brown not only provides the most detailed account of the escape story yet published but also tells of Brown's mastery of the nineteenth-century stage, especially his performances with his painted panorama show, the Mirror of Slavery. Just as Brown used imagery to recount the realities of American slavery and his own escape story, The Unboxing of Henry Brown features a rich collection of images related to his life, his published slave narrative, and his performances—many presented for the first time.
The attributes that enabled Henry Box Brown to succeed as a fugitive—daring, persuasiveness, and perseverance—were displayed time and again throughout his long career in the public eye.
232 pages, hardcover, ISBN 0884902005, The Library of Virginia, 2003
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