'The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point'

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s (1806-1861) original version of this anti-slavery poem appeared in The Liberty Bell (an annual abolitionist gift book) in 1848. It was her contribution to a fund-raising effort, promoting the abolitionist cause. Subsequently it was revised in Poems (1850). A black woman describes her servitude and her subjection to appalling abuse. Her lover was murdered; she was raped, and a ‘too white’ baby was the result of that violation. The slave commits infanticide, buries the corpse, then feels reconciled with the child. While she should find Pilgrim’s Point a place of sanctuary and liberation, instead she embraces death. The poet addresses issues of race, gender and class. 

Manuscript draft of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's 'The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point'

Manuscript draft of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's 'The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point'

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Victorian literature
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