Incidents in the life of a slave girl: written by herself

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Harvard University Press, 1987 - Biography & Autobiography - 306 pages
24 Reviews
This enlarged edition of the most significant and celebrated slave narrative now completes the Jacobs family saga, surely one of the most memorable in all of American history. John Jacobs's short slave narrative, A True Tale of Slavery, published in London in 1861, adds a brother's perspective to Harriet Jacobs's own autobiography. It is an exciting addition to this now classic work, as John Jacobs presents additional historical information about family life so well described already by his sister. Importantly, it presents the people, places, and events Harriet Jacobs wrote about from the different perspective of a male narrator. Once more, Jean Yellin, who discovered this long-lost document, supplies annotation and authentication. She has also brought her Introduction up to date.

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User Review  - jwood652 - LibraryThing

This is a great historical document, written at the dawn of the American Civil War. Reading this narrative by someone who lived the life of slavery and could so eloquently describe her truth to us ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - librarycatnip - LibraryThing

I really enjoyed this book, it was very accessible and expected a reasonable amount of intelligence from readers. :-) Jacobs has a wry sense of humor in the face of a blatant and systemic injustice. Read full review

Contents

Preface by the Author I
1
Introduction by the Editor
3
Childhood
5
Copyright

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About the author (1987)

Born into slavery in North Carolina, Jacobs's early life was one of abuse and hardship. At the age of 21, she was sent to work on a plantation as penalty for having rejected the sexual advances of her white owner, whereupon she determined to free herself and her children at whatever cost. In 1842 Jacobs escaped to the North and was placed in the home of the popular New York writer, N. P. Willis. Several years later she moved to Rochester, New York, where she became active in a group of antislavery feminists. It was at their urging that she first came to think of writing her autobiography, since slave narratives were found to be an effective means of turning northern sentiment against the cruelties of slavery. Jacobs worked on her book during the next several years, finally finishing it in 1858, but no publisher was willing to publish it. Only after Lydia Maria Child, a leading white abolitionist, agreed to write a preface to Jacobs's autobiography was the book able to find its way into print in 1861. Coming as it did, however, so close to the beginning of the Civil War, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (published under the pseudonym "Linda Brent") did not win the enormous popularity that other slave narratives had previously enjoyed, such as Frederick Douglass's Narrative (1845). Nor was its popularity increased by its frank depiction of the sexual exploitation of female slaves by their masters. However, white women reader were especially moved by the account of a woman who had fought so heroically to free herself and her children from slavery, even at the cost of her "virtue," and were able to identify with her through the perspective of their own situations as wives and mothers. During and after the Civil War, Jacobs traveled and spoke on behalf of the rights of African Americans, her effectiveness enhanced by the recognition that she had earned as an author.

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