Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave, published in 1825, is the first fugitive slave narrative in American history. Because Grimes wrote and published his narrative on his own, without deference to white editors, publishers, or sponsors, his Life has an immediacy, candor, and no-holds-barred realism unparalleled in the famous antebellum slave narratives of the period.
The work was republished in 2008, with a new introduction, afterword, and notes. This edition of Grimes's autobiography represented an historic partnership between noted scholar of the African American slave narrative, William L. Andrews, and Regina Mason, Grimes's great-great-great-granddaughter. Their extensive historical and genealogical research has produced an authoritative, copiously annotated text that features pages from an original Grimes family Bible, transcriptions of the 1824 correspondence that set the terms for the author's self-purchase in Connecticut (nine years after his escape from Savannah, Georgia), and many other striking images that invoke the life and times of William Grimes.
The Beinecke Library stewards a copy of the 1825 first edition of the Life of William Grimes. Mr. Grimes is interred nearby in the Grove Street Cemetery.