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William Wells Brown was the first black novelist He was also a Negro reformer and historian According to who you talk to his birth varies from 18141815 and 1816 Brown was born in Lexington Kentucky His mother was a slave and his father is said to be one George Higgins a white slaveholder As a youth Brown worked on steamships but was later employed in a print-shop owned by Elijah P Lovejoy then editor of the St Louis Times Working in this capacity Brown got his start in education Soon he was returned back to working on steamboats In 1834 he escaped into Ohio intending to cross Lake Eire into Canada On the way he was sheltered by a Quaker Wells Brown whose name he assumed in addition to the name William He now took up steamboating on Lake Erie and obtained the position of steward in which he was able to help many a fugitive to freedom In the year of his escape he married a former slave who was now free and had two daughters Profiting from school instruction and help from friends he acquired considerable knowledge of the fundamentals of English In the North he soon learned to speak the English language so fluently that he could easily present the claim of the Negro for freedom During 1843-49 he was variously employed as a lecturer of the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society and the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society In 1849 he visited England and represented the American Peace Society at the Peace Congress in Paris Highly recommended by the American Anti-Slavery Society as an apostle of freedom he was welcomed by famous Europeans such as Victor Hugo James Haughton George Thompson and Richard Cobden He remained abroad until 1854 During these years of his activity as a reformer Brown found time also to study medicine Like many of the physicians of his time he did not undergo formal training
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