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Books Unbound – “The Mulatto” by Victor Séjour


The first published short story by an African American, “The Mulatto” appeared in 1837 in an anti-slavery magazine in France. Its author was the 19-year-old Victor Séjour, who had come as a student to Paris from New Orleans. This Books Unbound encore episode is presented in honor of Black History Month.

Séjour was a French-speaking person of color whose baptismal record identifies him as a “free quadroon”. His father had come to New Orleans among refugees of the Haitian Revolution. Set in Haiti, “The Mulatto” is a frank melodrama, a mode of extreme passion and good-and-evil morality that permeated 19th-century fiction and drama. An oedipal tragic secret lies at the heart of a story fuel