Some white writers of the 19th century published fake slave autobiographies under pen names to see if they could fool readers. It was considered a literary feat if a writer could convincingly imagine himself in the life of an enslaved person.
Frederick Douglass’ book, “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” published in 1845, sold 30,000 copies in the United States and Britain by 1860. Phenomenal. Meanwhile, Solomon Northup’s “12 Years a Slave,” which was turned into an Oscar-winning film, sold 27,000 copies in its first two years.