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'12 Years a Slave' prompts a newspaper correction -- 161 years later

After the movie “12 Years a Slave” won best picture at the Oscars on Sunday night, writer Rebecca Skloot took to the New York Times website to read that paper's original 1853 article about the freed slave Solomon Northup.

“Interesting,” Skloot, the author of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” tweeted a short while later. “That original 1853 article spelled Solomon's [last] name differently in headline vs main article.”

On Tuesday morning, the New York Times ran a correction — 161 years after that story first ran.

“An article on Jan. 20, 1853, recounting the story of Solomon Northup … misspelled his surname as Northrop,” the correction said. “And the headline misspelled it as Northrup. The errors came to light on Monday after a Twitter user pointed out the article in The Times archives.”

Later, Skloot wrote on Twitter: “The irony, of course, is that I'm a terrible speller and proofreader.”

Besides finally getting his name spelled correctly in the New York Times, Tuesday was another good day for Northup’s afterlife. The book he wrote recounting his kidnapping in Washington and his 12 years in bondage zoomed up the Amazon bestseller chart in the wake of Sunday’s triumph at the Oscars.

As of this morning, “12 Years a Slave” was at No. 16 on the Amazon bestseller list, nipping at the heels of books by Donna Tartt and Rush Limbaugh.

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hector.tobar@latimes.com

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