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‘Why had I not died in my young years – before God had given me children to love and live for? What unhappiness and suffering and sorrow it would have prevented. I sighed for liberty; but the bondsman's chain was round me, and could not be shaken off.’ 1841: Solomon Northup is a successful violinist when he is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Taken from his family in New York State – with no hope of ever seeing them again – and forced to work on the cotton plantations in the Deep South, he spends the next twelve years in captivity until his eventual escape in 1853. First published in 1853, this extraordinary true story proved to be a powerful voice in the debate over slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War. It is a true-life testament of one man’s courage and conviction in the face of unfathomable injustice and brutality: its influence on the course of American history cannot be overstated.