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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)

by Harriet A. Jacobs

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,848762,728 (3.95)134
Not only one of the last of over one hundred slave narratives published separately before the Civil War, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) is also one of the few existing narratives written by a woman. It offers a unique perspective on the complex plight of the black woman as slaveand as writer. In a story that merges the conventions of the slave narrative with the techniques of the sentimental novel, Harriet Jacobs describes her efforts to fight off the advances of her master, her eventual liaison with another white man (the father of two of her children), and herultimately successful struggle for freedom. Jacobs' account of her experiences, and her search for her own voice, prefigure the literary and ideological concerns of generations of African-American women writers to come.… (more)
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English (72)  Spanish (1)  All languages (73)
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
Agonizing to read yet impossible to put down. How it was possible for a whole system of oppression to exist in the formation of the United States is absolutely beyond me. Jacobs makes the experiences of slavery accessible and puts them in context of not only the individual but of the family while at the same time highlighting the particular impact on women. Absolutely a must-read. ( )
  macleod73 | Sep 14, 2022 |
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is the autobiography of amazing human being, Harriet Jacobs. Harriet wrote her memoir under the name Linda Brent and changed the names of the people who owned her as well as helped her due to fear. Harriet's upbringing and education leads to very well written account of her harrowing time as a slave. She has even written a preface saying that her accounts may be difficult to believe, but they are very true.

Harriet had an unusual experience as a slave. Her younger years were spent with what she called a "kind mistress." Harriet spent most of her time sewing, playing, and learning. However, when that mistress died, Harriet was given to another family member. The master of Harriet's new house, Dr. Flint, becomes obsessed with Harriet and begins to manipulate, degrade and possess her fully. Harriet uses her cunning and intelligence to outsmart him as well as extreme perseverance and strength. Harriet escapes to her grandmother's house and hides in a small garret above a shed for seven years before she escapes to the North. The entire time, Dr. Flint does not give up on finding Harriet. I was constantly amazed by Harriet's fortitude, especially when in her garret and constantly staying ahead of Dr. Flint's manipulations and lies. Even when Harriet was in New York, she refused to be seen as anyone's property and did not want to be bought by another in order to be granted freedom. Harriet made excruciating choices for her survival including leaving her children and pushing her body to its limits. Harriet wrote her story in order to inform and inspire women of the North to the situation of women in the South. Her story is still engaging, inspiring and educational for people today. ( )
  Mishker | Jun 13, 2022 |
Recommended. Resolute story and person. ( )
  rinila | Feb 25, 2022 |
Not an easy read, but a good look at slave life, particularly the life of an escaped slave. It is shocking to me that Linda was not re-captured. It was a constant battle for so many years until she was finally given her freedom. The author was extremely eloquent in conveying her thoughts and opinions and she was generally much kinder in her thoughts toward some of the white people in her life than I would have been. It is still hard for me to understand how supposed Christians could condone slavery, but they did. And that should be taught in schools and not forgotten or brushed under the rug. It happened. No one alive today was responsible for slavery, but we are all responsible for the repercussions emanating from it. ( )
  AliceAnna | Jan 13, 2022 |
What a heartbreaking memoir, but what an important read. It's writing like this that reminds me of the importance of literature and of writing. This is a piece of history and Linda Brent weaponized her trauma and grief in order to plead for the cause of oppressed black people. It was an honor to read this today knowing how history turned out, and how we're still seeing the effects of that "demon Slavery" plague the nation today. Truly an honor to read such an incredible story with one of the strongest voices I have ever read. ( )
  AldaLyons | Oct 3, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jacobs, Harriet A.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Child, Lydia MariaEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ellis, R. J.Editormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fleischner, JenniferEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foster, Frances SmithEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hendrick, WilleneEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keilman, GeorgiaEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKay, Nellie Y.Editormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pine, Joslyn T.Editormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yellin, JeanEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yellin, Jean FaganEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Child, Harriet Annsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dutra, WaltensirTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Evers-Williams, MyrlieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giovanni, NikkiNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Griffin, Farah JasmineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacobs, John S.Contributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, Dawn LundyAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meriwether, LouiseIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Painter, Nell IrvinContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, ValerieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Teller, WalterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Northerners know nothing at all about Slavery. They think it is perpetual bondage only. They have no conception of the depth of degradation involved in that word, Slavery; if they had, they would never cease their efforts until so horrible a system was overthrown. -A Woman of North Carolina

Rise up, ye women that are at ease! Hear my voice, ye careless daughters! Give ear unto my speech. -Isaiah xxxii.9
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I was born a slave; but I never knew it till six years of happy childhood had passed away.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Not only one of the last of over one hundred slave narratives published separately before the Civil War, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) is also one of the few existing narratives written by a woman. It offers a unique perspective on the complex plight of the black woman as slaveand as writer. In a story that merges the conventions of the slave narrative with the techniques of the sentimental novel, Harriet Jacobs describes her efforts to fight off the advances of her master, her eventual liaison with another white man (the father of two of her children), and herultimately successful struggle for freedom. Jacobs' account of her experiences, and her search for her own voice, prefigure the literary and ideological concerns of generations of African-American women writers to come.

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One of the first personal narratives written by an ex-slave, this is also one of the few written by a woman. Harriet Jacobs (1813-97) was enslaved, along with her family, in North Carolina under a ruthless master who sexually harassed her. After several failed escape attempts, and several years of hiding, she finally made her way North to freedom, where she was eventually reunited with her children.
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Skyhorse Publishing

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Tantor Media

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