Rare First Edition of History of Black Literature, Abbé Grégoire De La Littérature des Nègres

GRÉGOIRE, Henri (French, 1750-1831). De La Littérature des Nègres, ou Recherches sur leurs facultés intellectuelles, leurs qualités morales et leur littérature; suivies de Notices sur la vie et les ouvrages des Nègres qui se sont distingués dans les Sciences, les Lettres et les Arts. Paris: Chez Maradan, 1808.

8vo (144 x 218 mm). Original marbled wrappers with paper spine label and blue glassine jacket, edges uncut (tear to lower right, wear to hinges and spine).

FIRST EDITION. Important work by revolutionary leader Henri Grégoire, familiarly known as Abbé Grégoire. An ardent abolitionist and advocate of universal suffrage, he was a prominent member of the Society of the Friends of Blacks (Société des amis des noirs), and it was on his motion that in May 1791 the Constituent Assembly passed a law allowing some free men of color the same rights as whites in French colonies. He published De La Littérature des Nègres in 1808 as a means to prove the intellectual equality of blacks providing biographies of more than 50 writers and artists, often including excerpts of their work and defending their output against critics including Thomas Jefferson. Notables include the first African American woman to publish a book of poetry Phillis Wheatley (American, ca 1753-1784), Jacobus Capitein (Ghanaian/Dutch, ca 1717-1747), Olaudah Equiano (Igbo/Nigerian/British, 1745-1797), Ignatius Sancho (British, ca 1729-1780), Francis Williams (Jamaican, ca 1700-1770), and more. A scarce and important work. Sabin 28727.


Tear to lower right, wear to hinges and spine, soiled edges, foxing.

Estimate: $2,500 - $3,000
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