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Very Scarce Book of Poetry and Music by Formerly Illiterate Author Thomas Young, 1897

YOUNG, Thomas (1860-?). Afro-American Freeman's Light: A Book of Original Poems and Songs. Denver: H.D. Mann & Co., [1897].

8vo. Frontispiece portrait, with music throughout. (Light even toning.) Original cloth-backed light green boards (very light spotting). 

FIRST EDITION. Born in enslavement in Mississippi in 1860, Young had few opportunities for education. He labored throughout the south and west and began to learn how to write in order to be able to write letters home to his family. In 1892, he moved to Colorado Springs and was hired as a manager at the Antler's Hotel. In his own words: "when my work was done in the servants' hall I would vote all my spare time to studying and writing, sometimes for publication and sometimes for essays. I began to feel my talents growing, so I commenced writing poetry," later adding musical composition to his repertoire. He continues, "I found that I could compose them so fast that I decided to compose a book." He also details the details of his religious convictions noting that he joined the M.E. in 1875 and would later join an AME church in Australia, Mississippi. The slim volume contains forty-two poems and ten musical compositions, most are of a religious nature, Young draws on his personal history of hard, agricultural labor which personalizes many of the works. A near-pristine copy of a very scarce work: OCLC locates only four copies with no records of copies ever sold at auction. 

Starting Price: $3,000
Estimate: $6,000 - $8,000
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