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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl


Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl


"I want to add my testimony to that of abler pens to convince the people of the Free States what slavery really is. Only by experience can anyone realize how deep, and dark, and foul is that pit of abominations."

Of the few slave narratives written by a woman, Harriet Jacobs's ''Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Written by Herself'' bears witness to the female experience of slavery.

Manifesting a command of rhetorical devices and narrative strategies rivaled only by that of Frederick Douglass, Jacobs's autobiography is one of the major works of Afro-American literature.

Written and published in 1861 after Jacobs' escape from a vile and predatory master, Harriet Jacobs delivers an unflinching portrayal of the abuses and hypocrisy of the master-slave relationship: a slave-holder who raped his slaves counted the children as added wealth, while the separation of children from mothers further simplified their sale.

During a time when it was unusual for slaves to read and write, self-publishing a first-hand account of slavery’s atrocities was extraordinary; that it was written by a woman, unprecedented. She wrote her memoir secretly at night.

After nearly seven years spent hiding in a tiny space above her grandmother’s home, Harriet Ann Jacobs took a step other slaves only dared to dream of in 1842: she secretly boarded a boat in Edenton, N.C., bound for Philadelphia, New York and, eventually, freedom.

HARRIET ANN JACOBS  (1813–1897) was an African-American writer who escaped from slavery and was later freed. She became an abolitionist speaker and reformer. Her Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, was first serialized in a newspaper and then published as a book in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent. It was one of the first books to address the struggle for freedom by female slaves.



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