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.