Martha Griffith Browne, d. 1906
Martha Griffith Browne, the author of Autobiography of a Female Slave, was a white woman from Kentucky who, prior to her conversion to abolitionism, had been a slaveowner. Browne wrote sketches and poems for The National Anti-Slavery Standard before authoring the novel, Autobiography of a Female Slave in 1856. In 1859-60 The National Anti-Slavery Standard serialized another novel by Browne Madge Vertner, about a woman who attempts to liberate her slaves but is deceived by the men to whom she entrusted her emancipationist goal.
Autobiography of a Female Slave is one of several noteworthy antebellum novels about slavery that were written by abolitionist authors. In some cases these novels echoed the storytelling style and conventions of the slave narrative so convincingly that they were mistaken for actual autobiographies of former slaves. The effectiveness of these novels in representing slavery and the point of view of slaves often made them useful weapons in the antislavery struggle. Examples of this genre of fictive slave narratives are, in addition to Autobiography of a Female Slave, Richard Hildreth, The Slave, or Memoirs of Archy Moore, 2 vols. (1836); Jabez Delano Hammond, Life and Opinion of Julius Melbourn (1847); Peter Neilson, Life and Adventures of Zamba, an African Negro King (1847); and Emily Catharine Pierson, Jamie Parker, the Fugitive (1856).
For more information about Mattie Griffith, see Joe Lockard, afterword, Autobiography of a Female Slave, by Mattie Griffith, (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998), 403-418.
William L. Andrews