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Welcome to Prospero's Blog! My wife Mollie and I work together in our Rough Magic studio on the coast of Maine. I've always loved old books, memorabilia, curiosities and Americana (especially 19th century dramatic literature) and am happy to share my discoveries in my Etsy Shops. Please come by and browse ~ there's just no telling what you'll find!

February 13, 2010

The First African American Playwright

We the People of the United States have our First African American President.

But who was our First African American Playwright? 

William Wells Brown! His contribution to our American Theatre -- The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom, published in 1858. Although Brown, born into slavery, wrote that "this play was written for my own amusement, and not with the remotest thought that it would ever be seen by the public eye," and "never aspired to be a dramatist" -- and his play was never produced during his lifetime (1816?-1884) -- The Escape presents its abolitionist message in the remarkably theatrical structure popular on the late 19th century stage. We have this play, and many more books available for sale! Click here to see them all!
Learn more about African American contributions to the American Theatre with Bernard Peterson's Contemporary Black American Playwrights and Their Plays.

The works of Langston Hughes, "The Poet Laureate of the Harlem Renaissance," with The Langston Hughes Readerautographed and presented to a faculty member at the University of Kansas during Hughes' lecture-visit in 1958 to Lawrence, where he once lived).

Look at the rare text by Genevieve Fabre, Drumbeats, Masks and Metaphor, Robert Toll's Blacking Up and William Leonard's Masquerade in Black, and numerous other books on our Website:

For more rare and hard-to-find books and much more, please visit my Etsy Vintage Shop, Prospero's Bookshelf:
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