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Cover of Douglass' Women: A Novel
September 2003
Washington Square Press

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Douglass' Women

A Novel
Jewell Parker Rhodes

Frederick Douglass, the great African-American abolitionist, was a man who cherished freedom in life and in love. In this ambitious work of historical fiction, Douglass' passions come vividly to life in the form of two women: Anna Murray Douglass and Ottilie Assing.

"Douglass' Women" is an imaginative rendering of these two women — one black, the other white — in Douglass' life. Anna, his wife, was a free woman of color who helped Douglass escape as a slave. She bore Douglass five children and provided him with a secure, loving home while he traveled the world with his message. Along the way, Douglass satisfied his intellectual needs in the company of Ottilie Assing, a white woman of German-Jewish descent, who would become his mistress for decades to come. How these two women find solidarity in their shared love for Douglass — and his vision for a free America — is at the heart of Jewell Parker Rhodes' extraordinary, epic novel.


Jewell Parker Rhodes is a professor in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and is affiliated with the Department of English at Arizona State University.