Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl


Product Details

$5.00  $4.65
Dover Publications
Publish Date
5.0 X 7.9 X 0.5 inches | 0.26 pounds

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About the Author

Harriet Jacobs (February 11, 1813 - March 7, 1897) was an African-American writer who escaped from slavery and was later freed. She became an abolitionist speaker and reformer. Jacobs began composing Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl after her escape to New York. Portions of her journals were published in the New-York Tribune, however Jacobs's reports of sexual abuse were deemed too shocking for the average newspaper reader of the day, and publication ceased before the completion of the narrative. The autobiography was a reworking of the genres of slave narratives and sentimental novels, and was one of the first books to address the struggle for freedom by female slaves, exploring their struggles with sexual harassment and abuse, and their efforts to protect their roles as women and mothers. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl initially received favorable reviews, but it quickly lost attention due to the start of the American Civil War. After the war ended, readers who discovered the work were confused as to the identity of the author; because of the use of a pseudonym, some thought that the author was Lydia Maria Child, or abolitionist author Harriet Beecher Stowe. At the time, the book was accepted as a fictional novel. From then on, the accepted academic opinion voiced by historians, was that Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl was a fictional novel written by Lydia Marie Child. While re-reading Incidents in the 1970s as part of a project to educate herself in the use of gender as a category of analysis, historian Jean Fagan Yellin became interested in the question of the text's true authorship. Over the course of a six-year effort, Yellin found and used a variety of historical documents, including from the Amy Post papers at the University of Rochester, state and local historical societies, and the Horniblow and Norcom papers at the North Carolina state archives, to establish both that Harriet Jacobs was the true author of Incidents, and that the narrative was her autobiography, not a work of fiction.