Congratulations to everyone associated with the film 12 Years A Slave. This outstanding film is based on the book by Solomon Northup, which was first published in 1853 — the year that Northup became a free man. The book was written in three months, and was published by Derby and Miller of Auburn, New York. Northup’s book sold over 30,000 copies in the first three years. The full and descriptive account of his experiences as a slave was used by numerous historians researching and writing about slavery. The book was reprinted in 1869, but it faded in popularity and was largely overlooked until the 1960s. The first scholarly edition of the memoir was published in 1968 by the Louisiana State University Press. In 1984, Gordon Parks directed a PBS film Solomon Northup’s Odyssey based on Northup’s memoir. The feature film 12 Years A Slave was released in October 2013 and, as you know, it was nominated for nine Academy Awards and last night it won Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress by Lupita Nyong’o, and Best Adapted Screenplay by John Ridley.
A copy of the first edition of Twelve Years A Slave is in the collections of UCI’s Special Collections & Archives.