The book that inspired the new major motion picture! (This edition has the illustrations used in the original 1853 published book.) Twelve Years a Slave is the true story of Solomon Northrup a free black man living in 19th century New York State with his wife and children -- until he was kidnapped in 1841 shipped down South and sold into slavery. He spent 12 years long torturous years in bondage -- working on plantations, picking cotton -- before finally being able to reclaim his freedom. In Twelve Years a Slave, Northrup describes the horror he endured himself, and the atrocities he witnessed during his enslavement.