Clotel, or, The President's Daughter

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(4.6 stars; 61 reviews)

Clotel; or, The President's Daughter is a novel by William Wells Brown (1814-84), a fugitive from slavery and abolitionist and was published in London, England in December 1853. It is often considered the first African-American novel. This novel focuses on the difficult lives of mulattoes in America and the "degraded and immoral condition of the relation of master and slave in the USA" (Brown). It is about the tragic lives of Currer, Althesea, and Clotel. In the novel, Currer is the former mulatto mistress of President Thomas Jefferson who together have two daughters, Althesea and Clotel. Because she was beautiful and the mistress of Jefferson, Currer and her daughters lived a confortable life, this changed when her master passes away. In the end, Currer and Althesea are auctioned to the notorious slave trader, Dick Walker. Clotel is bought by her lover Horatio Green. The separation of these three women is just the beginning of the injustices they face.

It gained notoriety amid the unconfirmed rumors regarding Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. Brown was still considered someone else's legal property within the borders of the United States at the time of its publication. It is considered to be the first novel written by an African American.

Brown used the injustices of slavery to demonstrate the destructive effects it had on the African American family, most significantly the so-called tragic mulatto. Brown had escaped from slavery in Kentucky while still in his youth, and became active on the anti-slavery circuit.

(Summary from Wikipedia) (5 hr 31 min)


00 - Memoir of the Author 3:22 Read by Andrew Symons
01 - The Negro Sale 17:29 Read by Andrew Symons
02 - Going to the South 13:53 Read by Betsie Bush
03 - The Negro Chase 10:03 Read by Amy Gramour
04 - The Quadroon's Home 6:02 Read by Amy Gramour
05 - The Slave Master 6:45 Read by Amy Gramour
06 - The Religious Teacher 25:44 Read by Amy Gramour
07 - The Poor Whites, South 10:34 Read by Amy Gramour
08 - The Separation 9:05 Read by Amy Gramour
09- The Man of Honor 3:16 Read by Amy Gramour
10- The Young Christian 13:00 Read by Tim Ferreira
11- The Parson Poet 6:15 Read by Amy Gramour
12- A Night in the Parson's Kitchen 10:10 Read by Amy Gramour
13- A Slave Hunt 11:14 Read by Amy Gramour
14- A Free Woman Reduced to Slavery 6:45 Read by Amy Gramour
15- Today a Mistress,Tomorrow a Slave 5:55 Read by Amy Gramour
16- Death of the Parson 9:20 Read by Amy Gramour
17- Retaliation 5:12 Read by Amy Gramour
18- The Liberator 13:37 Read by Amy Gramour
19- Escape of Clotel 25:40 Read by Cate Barratt
20- A True Democrat 8:45 Read by Amy Gramour
21- The Christian's Death 13:26 Read by Amy Gramour
22- A Ride in a Stage Coach 21:19 Read by Amy Gramour
23- Truth Stranger Than Fiction 12:02 Read by Amy Gramour
24- The Arrest 9:36 Read by Guero
25- Death is Freedom 10:49 Read by Guero
26- The Escape 16:33 Read by Amy Gramour
27- The Mystery 6:44 Read by Amy Gramour
28-29-The Happy Meeting and The Conclusion 18:35 Read by Amy Gramour


(5 stars)

Being from the former Capital of the Confederacy, how could I have never heard of William Wells Brown? I hope American high schools of the south are now making such well written historically based works common required reading. This comment from a 62 year old “white” Virginian who, 15 years ago, learned that his great grandmother was a mulatto.

nicely read collection of slavery story

(3 stars)

this is not a true story, yet the writer based his characters & events of true life events. short stories of various individuals mixed in with an ongoing tale of the events of the mistress & children of the president (again, reminder that this is not true story - though it is common knowledge that Jefferson had a relationship like such). i actually found the stories of all the other characters more interesting then the plot of the main characters. i loved the bits of poetry included in the book. the first few chapters are read okay, but as the story progresses the readers get better and better. reading the accounts of "mulatto" slaves makes me wonder what they would think if they knew that in the future, a president of the united states would be a child of a mixed relationship?

great novel and reading

(5 stars)

The readers were great. Some monotone but not to the point it puts you to sleep. I appreciated the readers that used different tone of voice throughout the characters. I’m a slower reader and had to read this for a class, so it made it very convenient to listen to it in the car on my way to work or school. The novel itself though is really engaging and a good read! Highly recommend!

Gripping Story

(5 stars)

I loved this story. The unpredictable plot kept my interest. Seeing characters meet unfortunate ends reminds the reader that there is not always a happy ending. Seeing other other characters thrive reminds the reader of the durable human spirit. A great read.

clotel or the president's daughter

(5 stars)

i wish every American would have to read this book. it actually should be mandatory! very sad to read but a great history of the American slaves.

(5 stars)

Readers do a great job! Tone and varied dialect resonate regional life and convey tragedy accordingly. Historical fiction, poètics, and a romantic ending uniquely structure this mixed tale of racial injustice.

Clotel, or, The President's Daughter

(5 stars)

An impacting book and enlightening book, and a very gifted reader made up a great combination. Thank you for this book.


(5 stars)

It was a great reading. The moments of excitement and the aptly curated poetry make this piece truly excellent.