Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland in 1818. He was separated from his mother as a baby and lived with his grandmother up to the age of eight, when he was sent to live as a house servant, a field hand and then a ship caulker. He escaped to New York in 1838 and seven years later published Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an autobiography of his life as a slave, which became an instant bestseller. Douglass rose to fame as a powerful orator and spent the rest of his life campaigning for equality. He became a national leader of the abolitionist movement, a consultant to Abraham Lincoln in the civil rights movement and a passionate supporter of the women's rights movement. He died in 1895.
Throughout his long career, Douglass cut an imposing figure, renowned as an impassioned abolitionist, a fiery writer and newspaper editor. He was a great public speaker, who became a one-man crusade for black liberation. -- Robert McCrum * Guardian 'The 100 best nonfiction books' * One of the most celebrated orators and political theorists in the world -- Brent Staples * New York Times *