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Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839 (Brown Thrasher Books) [Paperback]

Frances Anne Kemble , John A. Scott
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1, 1984 0820307076 978-0820307077 New edition
Originally published in 1863, out-of-print and unavailable for almost a century, Frances Anne Kemble's Journal has long been recognized by historians as unique in the literature of American slavery and invaluable for obtaining a clear view of the "peculiar institution" and of life in the antebellum South.

Fanny Kemble was one of the leading lights of the English stage in the nineteenth century. During a tour of America in the 1830s she met and married a wealthy Philadelphian, Pierce Butler, part of whose fortune derived from his family's vast cotton and rice plantation on the Sea Islands of Georgia. After their marriage she spent several months living on the plantation. Profoundly shocked by what she saw, she recorded her observations of plantation life in a series of journal entries written as letters to a friend. But she never sent the letters, and not until the Civil War was on and Fanny was divorced from Pierce Butler and living in England were they published.

This Brown Thrasher edition incorporates the valuable introduction written by John A. Scott for the 1961 edition published by Alfred A. Knopf, together with the editor's appendices to that edition. It provides the modern reader with the historical and biographical background to move freely and with ease in Mrs. Kemble's world.

Frequently Bought Together

Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839 (Brown Thrasher Books) + Mary Chesnut's Diary (Penguin Classics) + My Soul Is Rested: Movement Days in the Deep South Remembered
Price for all three: $44.05

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Editorial Reviews


"A leading British actress, Fanny Kemble married a wealthy Philadelphian during her American tour in 1834. She abandoned the stage and settled into married life, initially unaware of her husband's 'dreadful possessions,' some 700 slaves on his coastal Georgia plantations. Her Journal covers a period of almost four months, recording grief and outrage at the depredations of slavery. . . . The University of Georgia Press has restored a rightful classic to print.”--Atlanta Magazine

"A classic study of life and the living conditions of both owners and slaves."--Florida Historical Quarterly

"Long recognized as unique in the literature of American slavery and of life in the antebellum South."--Virginia Quarterly Review

Book Description

Frances Anne Kemble's journal, written during a brief residence on a Georgian plantation, records her encounters with her husband's slaves and attempts to expose the moral injustice of slavery. First published in 1863, Kemble's journal remains a lasting and important critique of slavery in the nineteenth-century American south. --This text refers to the Printed Access Code edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Brown Thrasher Books
  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press; New edition edition (March 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820307076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820307077
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Documentary Resource for Women's History September 1, 2001
Fanny Kemble Butler was a remarkable woman. In a time, circumstance, and place which precluded her following her life's dream, she settled down into marriage with Pierce Butler, who had adamantly and ardently pursued her hand. She left a very successful career as an actress and gave up, for a time and at her husband's request, her ambition and even her beliefs. She strove to make this marriage work and to "save her husband's soul," when she discovered, after the marriage, the actual source of her husband's family's income, the rice plantations that lay in Georgia. They had two children together before she finally persuaded him to allow her to visit his Georgia rice plantations, where hundreds of negro slaves labored to support the family's wealthy lifestyle in New England. Fanny's heartfelt pleas to free the negroes not only fell on her husband's deaf ears, but he eventually forbade her to even tell him of their plight, and even went so far as to forbid her to continue the practice of helping out in their infirmary. Still, the slaves of her husband's two plantations temporarily benefitted from her visit, which must have been like a ray of light in a very dark existence. The stories speak for themselves, and Fanny makes it her duty to record every one in the slaves' own voices. This book affected me deeply, especially when I read of Fanny's eventual unhappy divorce from her husband, whom she still loved, and her enforced separation from her children. Scholarly reading for every student of the nineteenth century, in the subjects of enslavement, the plight of married women, and general attitudes toward women and slavery by men in power and the common people.
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sobering and melancholic narrative of slavery.... December 4, 2000
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book from Amazon in September but just managed to finish it this weekend. Why the delay? The book is a hard and melancholic read. In page after page Fanny Kemble narrates the abomination and sheer evil of slavery. We are introduced to folks who pious in their ways and beliefs show absolutely no compassion or outrage towards sanctioned barbarism. There is the case of one little girl who cannot conceive or imagine the notion that she can be a free woman. Then there is the sanctimonious Mr. Butler who is supposed to be a "good massa" to the chattel that is his property. I cannot begin to chronicle the innumerable injustices done to fellow humans.
But then in the midst of this filth there is a bright shinning light. That light is Fanny. This brave and intellignet lady fought against big odds to somewhat improve the plight of the slaves on her husband's plantation. Often not taken seriously, or worse treated condescendingly, Fanny nevertheless kept at it.
The first five chapters are a delight to read. They narrate her journey to the plantation along with her experiences at stops along the way. But from then on be prepared for a long sad book. This is an important book that deserves your attention. The next time I visit one of those beautiful antebellum mansions with the aroma of magnolia's in the air I will remember the cost of human lives wasted. I will remember Fanny.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A drop of kindness in an ocean of misery July 6, 2007
Imagine that you are an educated, early-19th century British woman who marries a cultured, wealthy, charming Philadelphia bluestocking and lives a happy and refined life and has two daughters and THEN you learn that your husband's great wealth, passed down through generations, comes from several slave plantations in Georgia. Next imagine that your husband, who wants to check out his property, takes you and the girls to Georgia for a few months. The trip to Georgia is, to the modern eye, a nightmare, but I think it probably represents the travel experience of the time. This journey, however, is as nothing compared to the 4 or so months spent on the various Butler plantations.

This book is not so much a journal, per se, as a collection of letters Fanny wrote to her friend Margaret, describing the land, customs, food, daily life, etc., of the plantations. But above all what Fanny reports on is slavery. She is horrified at what she sees all around her, and with the eye of a documentary filmmaker she records what she learns and experiences---the work in the fields, the diet, the family structure, the economics of the plantation system, the clothing, the illnesses and injuries, the medical care, the conversations, the rewards and punishments. Fanny can't escape from her belief that the Butler slaves are human beings, and the slaves, responding to the tiniest drop of Fanny's kindness in their great ocean of misery, quickly come to believe she is an angel sent by God.

Fanny's letters fueled the flames of the antislavery movement both in the U.S. and in England. Articulate and highly descriptive, her writings were widely published.

This is a can't-put-it-down book--------even if you think you know all about the evils of slavery. Highly, highly recommended.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wrote a play about her in 1948. January 7, 2007
I'm delighted at all the attention NOW being paid to Fanny Kemble. I was in an acting class at the Pasadena Playhouse in 1948 when the teacher asked one of us to write a nineteenth century play, since there were few to choose for our acting class. So I stumbled across her name in "All This and Heaven, Too" and wrote a drama about her life on the plantation and all the slavery conditions. Now, I'm 81, and books are piling up about her. I got my information from a FIRST EDITION of this "Journal" which my grandfather had acquired soon after it appeared, around the Civil War. It kept England from joining the Confederate side.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Journal! Don't miss it.
Originally published in 1863, Kemble a famous young English actress marries a wealthy Philadelphian who was the absentee owner of a rice and cotton plantation near St. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Daria Karitinova
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading Ms. Kemble is a must.....
I read this book several years ago never forgot it. I recently purchased it for friends. It's an exact account of why slavery was so wrong. Read more
Published 5 months ago by judith m. barry
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the Best
Excellent product,and buying satisfaction,through the best sales company on the internet.
Will buy from again,and again,and again,and again,and again,and....again repeat
Published 7 months ago by rful407
5.0 out of 5 stars Journal of a Residence explains a lot about racism as we know it.
We visited Georgia and South Carolina in October and heard many faint apologies for the role the southern states played in slavery. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Janet Dolder
5.0 out of 5 stars This book contains the costal history of the costal plantations
Before reading this book you needd to read the trilogy books written by "Euginia Price" the St.SIMMONS TRILOGY and GEORGIA TRILOGY". Read more
Published 12 months ago by Fay Y King
5.0 out of 5 stars So well written.
Several years ago I saw the movie Enslavement: The True Story of Fanny Kemble. It is a great movie.The movie prompted me to go to the Library and look up Fanny Kemble. Read more
Published 16 months ago by susieq
5.0 out of 5 stars A First Hand Observance into Life on a Southern Plantation.
An up-close and personal experience of what life was like for the slave and the owners of a Southern coastal plantation.
Published 17 months ago by Muzi
This volume remains a primary source for anyone interested in the history of slavery in the American South. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Joseph D. Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening look at slave plantations in the pre-Civil War United...
What a remarkable woman, that Fanny Kemble Butler! I read this while conducting more in-depth research into slavery while writing my novel, The Secrets of Heavenly She offered... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars A huge disappointment
As much as I wanted to finish this book, I gave up at the halfway point. The typos were excessive, and the entire book was one very long chapter! Read more
Published 17 months ago by Lori loves history!
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