The Sorrows of Yamba; or, The Negro Woman's Lamentation

The Sorrows of Yamba; or, The Negro Woman's Lamentation. Hannah More.
The Sorrows of Yamba; or, The Negro Woman's Lamentation
Hannah More's scarce abolitionist poem, placing readers within Yamba's tragic first-person narrative of enslavement
The Sorrows of Yamba; or, The Negro Woman's Lamentation

London and Bath: Sold by J. Marshall, Printer to the Cheap Repository...and S. Hazard, [1795]. First edition. Single sheet in three columns, including one woodcut. Measures 430 x 280 mm. Light edgewear and faint toning at central fold; small stain to lower right corner not affecting text. Printed in 1795 by the Cheap Repository, this broadside edition of the work was released in the same year as the 12 page chapbook, which is also rare. Additional and more institutionally common versions of the broadside appear in ESTC with varying numbers of columns and woodcuts, with no clear priority assigned. A beautiful copy of this scarce abolitionist text by infamous Bluestocking Hannah More. The only copy on the market, ESTC reports only 1 institutionally held copy of this issue, located at the Bodleian.

A followup to More's 1788 abolitionist poem Slavery, The Sorrows of Yamba is a first-person narrative of one woman's capture and enslavement. Because the lyric poem was designed to be sung, More has created a situation where readers not only hear of Yamba's tragic separation from home and family, but they also use their own voices to express her sorrow. The effect urges even the most insensitive reader to tap into their own emotions, to realize the humanness of enslaved people, and to move toward change. "Born on Afric's Golden Coast, Once I was as blest as you; Parents tender I could boast, Husband dear and Children too," Yamba cries. More's narrative is a strategic piece of activist rhetoric that encourages white Englishmen and women to form a vocal connection and to see similarities between themselves and others, regardless of national or racial difference. Yet unlike More's earlier work, The Sorrows of Yamba takes a decidedly conservative turn; as the character traces her move from her home in Africa, to foreign shores and the whip of a cruel master, her encounter with an English missionary and his Bible teach her comfort and the promise that even if she never sees her family in this life, goodness will allow her to find them again in the next. An important and scarce work of activism.

ESTC N71725. Spinney 42a.
Fine (Item #4130)

Price: $7,500