Synopses & Reviews
The true story of an individual's struggle for self-identity, self-preservation, and freedom, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl remains among the few extant slave narratives written by a woman. This autobiographical account chronicles the remarkable odyssey of Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897) whose dauntless spirit and faith carried her from a life of servitude and degradation in North Carolina to liberty and reunion with her children in the North.
Written and published in 1861 after Jacobs' harrowing escape from a vile and predatory master, the memoir delivers a powerful and unflinching portrayal of the abuses and hypocrisy of the master-slave relationship. Jacobs writes frankly of the horrors she suffered as a slave, her eventual escape after several unsuccessful attempts, and her seven years in self-imposed exile, hiding in a coffin-like "garret" attached to her grandmother's porch.
A rare firsthand account of a courageous woman's determination and endurance, this inspirational story also represents a valuable historical record of the continuing battle for freedom and the preservation of family.
"A corrective to those who have identified the slave narrative primarily as a male genre....This particular edition, with its introduction by Valerie Smith, sheds new light on the choices its heroine Linda Brent makes." The Women's Review of Books
"My personal favorite...Jacobs confronts the contradictions inherent in the category 'the black woman writer.' By engaging these issues and negotiating a course through them, she anticipates the literary and ideological position of subsequent generations of black women writers." Jean Fagan Yellin, The Washington Post Book World
"A viable alternative to male save narratives. The specific problems faced by female slaves are clearly portrayed." Ray Doyle, West Chester Univ.
"One of the major autobiographies of the African-American tradition." Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
This autobiographical account by a former slave is one of the few extant narratives written by a woman. Written and published in 1861, it delivers a powerful portrayal of the brutality of slave life. Jacobs speaks frankly of her master's abuse and her eventual escape, in a tale of dauntless spirit and faith.
About the Author
Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813-1897) was an African American writer, who was born into slavery, but managed to gain her freedom. She was a reformer and an abolitionist speaker. In addition, under the name Linda Brent, she wrote Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, one of the first autobiographies about living in slavery. That narrative included her accounts of the sexual abuse female slaves suffered, as well as the struggle for freedom.