William Hill Brown

William Hill Brown

William Hill Brown

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William Hill Brown (November 1765, Boston - 2 September 1793, Murfreesboro, North Carolina) was an American novelist, the author of what is usually considered the first American novel, The Power of Sympathy (1789) and "Harriot, Or The Domestick Reconciliation"Originally published in January 1789 in The Massachusetts Magazine. Carla Mulford (ed.) (2002): Early American Writing. Oxford University Press. New York.p. 1084ff. as well as the serial essay "The Reformer" published in Isaiah Thomas' Massachusetts Magazine.In both, Brown proves an extensive knowledge of European literature for example of Clarissa by Samuel Richardson but tries to lift the American literature from the British corpus by the choice of an American setting.


William Hill Brown was born in Boston in 1765. Much of his personal history has been left unrecorded: only three examples of his handwriting remain. Two of these examples are simply inscriptions in books. The most telling of the three examples, however, was a letter that Brown wrote to a friend on April 29, 1784. The letter reveals that his appearance reflects that of an "Old Dr. Chauncy," suggesting a small, frail stature. Brown also reveals in his letter that he was victim of a debilitating illness which kept him indoors for approximately four months.

Brown also wrote the tragedy West Point Preserved, about the British spy, Major John André.

Brown died in North Carolina in 1793, aged...
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