Chicago: Meyer & Brother, 1893. First edition. With frontisportrait and twenty-five full-page engravings. Binding is bright and attractive despite some wear to extremities. Toning to versos of flyleaves and some marginal toning, as usual. Twentieth century bookplate to front pastedown. A very good or better copy of this important autobiography of a Black preacher and missionary. Publisher’s blue cloth stamped in gilt with portrait of Amanda Smith. Titles in gilt on spine. Dark brown endpapers. Octavo. xvi, 17-506 pp. Item #17293
Amanda Smith (1837 - 1915) was a Methodist preacher, writer, and missionary who traveled through England, India, and West Africa advocating for the education of girls and women. Smith was born into slavery in Maryland and, after her father bought the freedom of their family, she married a Methodist deacon and became a preacher in black churches in New York and New Jersey. Smith spent eight years as a missionary in West Africa and, upon returning to the United States, established an orphanage and school for black children in Chicago. In this book’s introduction, Smith’s colleague Bishop J.M. Thorburn attested to Smith’s striking presence and command of an audience: “During the many years that I have lived in Calcutta, I have known many famous strangers to visit the city…but I have never known anyone who could draw and hold so large an audience as Mrs. Smith,” (p. vi).