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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Harriet Jacobs

Book Overview: 

Harriet Jacobs’ autobiography, written under the pseudonym Linda Brent, details her experiences as a slave in North Carolina, her escape to freedom in the north, and her ensuing struggles to free her children. The narrative was partly serialized in the New York Tribune, but was discontinued because Jacobs’ depictions of the sexual abuse of female slaves were considered too shocking. It was published in book form in 1861.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .he assured me that it would be lavishly bestowed. He begged me to think over the matter, and answer the following day.

The next morning I was called to carry a pair of scissors to his room. I laid them on the table, with the letter beside them. He thought it was my answer, and did not call me back. I went as usual to attend my young mistress to and from school. He met me in the street, and ordered me to stop at his office on my way back. When I entered, he showed me his letter, and asked me why I had not answered it. I replied, "I am your daughter's property, and it is in your power to send me, or take me, wherever you please." He said he was very glad to find me so willing to go, and that we should start early in the autumn. He had a large practice in the town, and I rather thought he had made up the story merely to frighten me. However that might be, I was determined that I would never go to Louisiana with him.

Summer passed . . . Read More

Community Reviews

This book was first published in 1861 and reprinted in the 1970s. Scholars initially doubted it was written by a slave. Thankfully, Harvard University Press authenticated and published findings of the 1980s, and Jean Fagan Yellin, Harriet Jacobs' biographer, dug up proof of the authenticity of this

A remarkable and vivid autobiography that details the life of Harriet Jacobs as a slave in North Carolina in the mid 1800s.

My Master had power and law on his side. I had a determined will. There is might in each.
Quote from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

This should be required reading in

Never having read a memoir written by a person living under the yoke of slavery, I found this autobiography painful and enlightening. Harriet Jacobs must have been a wonderfully strong woman to endure what she did and to demand her full rights as a human being. She refused to give in to the sexual d

Book Review

Harriet Ann Jacob’s work was similar to Frederick Douglass’ narrative in that both of the pieces read so quickly and easily. I very much enjoyed Jacob’s piece. The language seemed so real and almost as though Harriet, or Linda, was telling the story to me herself. I understoo

Filled with sadness, heartache and misery, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is the personal story of Harriet Ann Jacobs, known as Linda. Linda was born into slavery and enjoyed a life of childish happiness for a short time. But when her mother’s new owner Dr Flint took control of the slaves, li

Reader, it is not to awaken sympathy for myself that I am telling you truthfully what I suffered in slavery. I do it to kindle the flame of compassion in your heart for my sisters who are still in bondage, suffering as I once suffered.

In the pre-civil war period of 1861, Harriet Jacobs was the o

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