My Bondage and My Freedom

Author: Frederick Douglass

Year: 1855

Frederick Douglass’s memoir My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), published a decade after the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), is his revision of his original narrative. According to historian and Douglass scholar, David W. Blight, it may be the greatest slave narrative ever written. Written during a period after Douglass had attained freedom, it is more revealing than his first memoir and more politically sophisticated. Douglass was older and better educated when he wrote this book. Conversely, he had composed his narrative in response to a skeptical public, as proof of his enslavement and that he was, indeed, literate.

Douglass divides the book into two periods—his life as a slave, and his life as a free man. He conveys this division in the title. His use of the possessive pronoun “my” expresses his ownership of both experiences, even the enslavement imposed upon him. (SuperSummary)