New York: Harper & Brothers, 1863, First American edition. A London edition was published in the same year. OCLC records no physical copies of the present edition and seven copies of the London (four in North America). Spine sunned. Spot of soiling to front board. Contemporary ink gift inscription to front pastedown. Minor occasional foxing. A very good copy of this important anti-slavery memoir. Publisher’s light brown cloth titled in gilt. 337, 10 [publisher’s ads]. Item #17030
Frances Anne Kemble (1809 – 1893) was an actress, writer, and abolitionist. She was a successful Shakespearean actress before marrying the heir to multiple lucrative plantations (whom she would divorce in 1848). Kemble and her husband moved to Georgia to live on one of the plantations, where Kemble was appalled by the treatment of the enslaved people who worked there. She wrote the present work during the year she lived on the plantation and circulated it informally in abolitionist circles at the time, but protests from her abusive husband prevented her from publishing the work until the height of the Civil War. Her intent was to combat the general sympathy of the British aristocracy with the South, and the work garnered respect in abolitionist and feminist circles in both the United States and Britain — shortly after the official publication of the present work, for example, Emily Faithfull published excerpts from the text in tract form, as compiled by Isa Craig. In the Oxford DNB, Robert Bernard Martin calls Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation “a small masterpiece of generous outrage, arguing from the amply and sympathetically documented details of what she had seen, to generalized indignation that such treatment could be tacitly encouraged by part of a civilized nation.”.
Kemble returned to England after leaving the plantation. Following in the footsteps of her father Charles Kemble and her aunt Sarah Siddons, she began a career as a Shakespearean reader. For the next fifteen years, she had great commercial and artistic success as she toured England and the United States. She eventually divorced her husband and, in her later years, wrote Record of a Girlhood (1878) and Records of Later Life (1882), two of her most important works. Howes K69. CBEL 627. Feminist Companion to Literature in English (p. 604).