Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl – Harriet Jacobs


This autobiographical account by a former slave is one of the few extant narratives written by a woman. Written and published in 1861, it delivers a powerful portrayal of the brutality of slave life. Jacobs speaks frankly of her master’s abuse and her eventual escape, in a tale of dauntless spirit and faith.


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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

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

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