From Slavery to Show Business
A new book about Henry “Box” Brown by Kathleen Chater.
Henry Box Brown is well-known in America for remarkably escaping slavery. In 1849 he organised for himself to be nailed up in a box and posted from Virginia to Philadelphia where he was received by abolitionists. Although he remained in America for a time speaking at events as an abolitionist, sometimes even with Frederick Douglass, another abolitionist and former slave who had also escaped the shackles of the South, the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 made it unsafe for Brown to remain in America so he relocated to England.
Here, he had a very successful career, initially as a speaker on abolitionism, before he began speaking on other subjects and then branched out into various forms of entertainment. He married an English woman Jane Floyd, who, along with their children, appeared in his acts. With his wife and surviving children, he returned to America in 1875 finally moving to Canada, where he died in 1897.
This book tells his story, concentrating on the relatively unknown period of his life in Britain, detailing both how he was received and how he developed as a performer. It is the biography of a brave, intelligent individualist who was always willing to learn and to take chances, becoming the first black man to achieve landmarks in British law and entertainment.
The book is available from here