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Library Acquires Rare, First Edition of “Twelve Years a Slave”

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has acquired a first-edition copy of “Twelve Years a Slave.”

The book by Solomon Northup was published in 1853 and is housed in Dupré Library's Special Collections.

Its market value of about $10,000 has increased because of the recent success of “12 Years a Slave,” a 2013 film adapted from Northup’s memoir, according to Bruce Turner, assistant dean of special collections.

The film received nine Academy Award nominations. It won the 2014 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture–Drama and was recognized as Best Film by the Southeastern Film Critics Association.

“This is going into our collection, which includes two other copies of the book,” Turner said.

The other two copies were printed in 1854. One was donated when the University was known as the Southwestern Louisiana Institute.

The 1853 edition, which is rare, was donated recently by UL Lafayette education professor Elizabeth Pinkett.

The book, set in Louisiana, is an important addition to the University’s collection, Turner said.

It is a narrative of a free man who was kidnapped, sold into slavery, and kept in bondage for 12 years in Louisiana. Northup provided details of slave markets and cotton and sugar plantations in Louisiana.