A reprint of an autobiography first published in 1861 under a pseudonym. It tells the story of a woman born a slave in 1813 and how she struggled all her life to free herself and those she loved--indeed, as an active abolitionist she fought for the freedom of all the slaves. This may be the most important story ever written by a slave woman, capturing as it does the gross indignities as well as the subtler social arrangements of the time. An introduction is invaluable in clarifying many incidents and personalities...The author writes with passion and insight into the peculiar institution of slavery. Her writing, modern in several respects, prefigures many of the developments in the later literature of the South. (Kirkus Reviews
Harriet A. Jacobs was not an ordinary slave girl, and her autobiography is not an ordinary account of the miseries of slavery. She was a slave who triumphed not only by luck or piety or passivity but by skillful planning and effective deceit...Excellent introduction...Even for those who have read extensively about the South's peculiar institution, this autobiography of a slave will not easily be forgotten. (American Heritage
Of these female slave narratives, Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself
is the crowning achievement. Manifesting a command of rhetorical and narrative strategies rivaled only by that of Frederick Douglass, Jacobs's autobiography is one of the major works of Afro-American literature...Jacobs's narrative is a bold and gripping fusion of two major literary forms: she borrowed from the popular sentimental novel on one hand, and the slave narrative genre on the other. Her tale gains its importance from the fact that she charts, in great and painful detail, the sexual exploitation that daily haunted her life--and the life of every other black female slave...Ms. Yellin's superbly researched edition insures that Harriet Jacobs will never be lost again.
--Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (New York Times Book Review
[The book] is a major work in the canon of writing by Afro-American women...Jacobs's book--reaching across the gulf separating black women from white, slave from free, poor from rich, 'bad' women from 'good'--represents an early attempt to establish an American sisterhood.
--Wayne Lionel Aponte (The Nation
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
These two slave narratives expand our knowledge of the differing ways males and females coped with enslavement and later ordeals in flight. This popularly-priced anthology contains the often taught Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and the recently discovered A True Tale of Slavery by John S. Jacobs, her younger brother, now reprinted for the first time.
After Harriet’s owner, a physician, repeatedly abused her, she escaped his sexual advances for a time by entering into a relationship with a local attorney. Her owner continued to harass her, and she sought refuge in a crawlspace where she lived in hiding. After her escape to the North, she published her narrative.
John S. Jacobs “walked away” as he put it, from his owner, a congressman. He sailed on a whaling ship and educated himself. He then became a paid agent of the Anti-Slavery Society, made a lecturing trip with Frederick Douglass, and finally settled in London, where he remained until it was safe for a fugitive to return to the North. He wrote his story for a London Sunday school journal where it was published in 1861.
--This text refers to an alternate