Random House has acquired a manuscript, entitled The Life and Adventures of a Haunted Convict, or the Inmate of a Gloomy Prison, that scholars believe to be the first prison memoir written by an African-American.
The authorship is attributed to a man named Austin Reed. David Blight, a history professor at Yale University, has signed on to write a foreword. Caleb Smith, an English professor at Yale University, will pen an introduction.
The publisher has set a release date for 2016. According to The New York Times, this book contains “Reed’s story of imprisonment and harsh punishment while he was at a state prison in upstate New York from the 1830s to the 1850s. After details of the manuscript were disclosed last week, Random House snapped up the rights to publish it, offering a mid-six-figure sum, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations who was not authorized to speak publicly.”