In this novel set in antebellum America, the Garies—a white southerner, his mulatto slave-turned-wife, and their two children—have moved to Philadelphia from Georgia.
Originally published in London in 1857, The Garies and Their Friends was the second novel published by an African American and the first to chronicle the experience of free blacks in the pre-Civil War northeast. The novel anticipates themes that were to become important in later African American fiction, including miscegenation and "passing," and tells the story of the Garies and their friends, the Ellises, a "highly respectable and industrious coloured family."
"It is remarkable that, even as the study of African American literature and culture has become central to any number of projects within American intellectual life, so little attention has been given a work as significant as Frank J. Webb's The Garies and Their Friends."—from the 1997 introduction by Robert Reid-Pharr