“12 Years A Slave” The Book
Solomon Northup (1808–c. 1863) was a free man kidnapped into slavery in 1851. The details of his life after the publication of his acclaimed memoir are unknown.
The 1853 autobiography Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery. He worked on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before his release. The first scholarly edition of Northup’s memoir, co-edited by Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon in 1968, carefully retraced and validated his account, finding it to be remarkably accurate.
In 1841, Solomon Northup (Ejiofor) is a free black man living with his wife and two children in Saratoga Springs, New York. He makes his living playing the violin. One day he is lured into a lucrative touring gig by a pair of men (McNairy and Killam). After a night out in Washington, D.C. with the two men, Northup awakens to find himself chained to the floor. In shock of what has happened, Northup realizes he has been drugged and sold into slavery.
Now under the name of Platt, Northup is transported by ferry to New Orleans, where he is purchased as a slave by plantation owner William Ford (Cumberbatch). Enduring his new life, Northup stays on good terms with Ford as he assists him by engineering a waterway for transporting materials more swiftly. Northup’s ability to play the violin is also discovered, with Ford providing him with a violin. Because of his success on the plantation, overseer John Tibeats (Dano) becomes jealous of Northup leading to many quarrels between the two.
Eventually, Northup is handed over to another plantation run by abusive slave driver Edwin Epps (Fassbender). Northup’s main duties are now picking cotton, which he is expected to collect 200 pounds of each day otherwise savagely beaten. The slave who constantly picks the most cotton is Patsey (Nyong’o), a gentle woman that is the center of Epps’ affection, despite his distressingly aware wife (Paulson).
One day, while working in the fields, Northup is called out by the local sheriff. Inquiring about Northup’s past life, the sheriff asks a series of questions to match him to his profile. Northup is then taken off the plantation to much of Epps’ dismay. After being enslaved for 12 years, Northup is finally released and returned back to his family.
Editors,Ira Berlin is Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Maryland, College Park. His many books include The Making of African America and Many Thousands Gone, winner of the Bancroft Prize and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the W. E. B Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.
The film is directed by Steve McQueen and written by John Ridley. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup. 12 Years a Slave premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on August 30, 2013. The film was given a limited release in the United States on October 18, 2013 and is scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom on January 24, 2014.
Director: Steve McQueen
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