Author: Philip Barrett


Gilbert Hunt, the City Blacksmith by Philip Barrett (1859)

In Gilbert Hunt, the City Blacksmith, published in 1859, Philip Barrett, a pseudonym of Thomas Ward Whie, presents the recollections of Gilbert Hunt, a blacksmith and former slave who lived in Richmond. Hunt was perhaps best known for his efforts to save lives during the Richmond Theatre fire in 1811. This narrative, along with other slave narratives, offer a composite portrait of authors’ self-styled personal stories. The amanuensis’ interests, lived experiences, and editing choices, as well as their social relations and expectations shaped the relationship and conversation with the authors. Although the narratives aren’t unmediated autobiographies, they are no less authentic and are just as fruitful a source for reconstructing historical experience.