From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Autobiography of a Female Slave, by Mattie Griffith

The Autobiography of a Female Slave was written by Owensboro, KY, native Mattie Griffith. The book was initially thought to be a Kentucky slave narrative, and even today it is still occasionally mistaken as such.

Martha "Mattie" Griffith was a white abolitionist who wrote the book in hopes of raising money to emancipate her slaves and resettle them in a free state. A few weeks after the book was published, Griffith admitted writing the story based on real life incidents that she had witnessed. The Louisville Courier denounced the book as abolitionist propaganda.

The book did not sell well, but Griffith received money from the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1858 that she used to free and resettle her slaves. Griffith and her sister, Catherine, had inherited their slaves from their parents, Catherine and Thomas Griffith, who both died in 1830. The girls were raised by family members in Louisville, KY, and around 1854, they were both living in Philadelphia, PA, where Mattie wrote her book.

Beginning in 1859, Mattie Griffith wrote a serialized anti-slavery novel with a mulatto heroine from Kentucky: "Madge Vertner," published in the National Anti-Slavery Standard newspaper, July 1859-May 1860.

In 1866, Mattie Griffith married Albert Gallatin Browne from Massachusetts. She died in Boston in 1906.

This entry was suggested by James Birchfield, Curator of Rare Books at the University of Kentucky Libraries.

For more information see the Mattie Griffith Browne entry in the American National Biography Online database; Slippery Characters, by L. Browder; and J. M. Lucas, "Exposed Roots: from pseudo-slave narratives to The Wind Done Gone, the authenticity of representations of black history has always been in question," 2/27/2002, at (Independent Weekly).

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Daviess County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Owensboro, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Autobiography of a Female Slave, by Mattie Griffith,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 16, 2024,

Last modified: 2020-08-26 16:53:17