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Authors of “Twelve Years a Slave” biography to discuss Solomon Northup’s life



Clifford Brown and Rachel Seligman, co-authors of a new biography on Solomon Northup, a free black man kidnapped into slavery until his rescue 12 years later, will lead a conversation on Northup’s life Thursday, Nov. 14, at 5 p.m. in the Nott Memorial.

The event is free and open to the public.

In 1999, Seligman was director of Union’s Mandeville Gallery when she and Brown, the Robert Porter Patterson Professor of Government, collaborated on a popular exhibit inspired by Northup’s 1853 riveting memoir, Twelve Years a Slave.

Joined by David Fiske, a former senior librarian at the New York State Library, Brown and Seligman (now an assistant director for curatorial affairs with the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College) have reconnected for the new biography, Solomon Northup: The Complete Story of the Author of Twelve Years a Slave.

The book coincides with the current movie, “12 Years a Slave,” which has drawn universal praise for its harrowing and mesmerizing account of Northup’s ordeal. Written by John Ridley and directed by Steve McQueen, the film has generated considerable Oscar buzz and won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

The biography has drawn praise from noted historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard, a consultant to the movie and editor of a recent edition of Twelve Years a Slave, who called it an “indispensable source” and the “best current biography available. The facts they have uncovered are invaluable.”

The conversation with Brown and Seligman is sponsored by the Office of Campus Diversity.

Before the talk, there is a reception at 4:30 p.m. There will also be a raffle for tickets to the movie.

Brown, Seligman and Fiske recently appeared on WAMC's The Roundtable to discuss their book. To listen, click here.

To learn more about the book, click here.