Length: 272 pages
Audiobook Length: 9 hours and 1 minute
First Published: 1861
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Largely forgotten and believed to be a work of fiction, historians in the 1980s finally proved that Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl was Harriett Jacobs’s memoir of her life as a slave. Told in a brilliantly clear and compelling narrative, Jacob shines the light on the hypocrisy and sexual abuse inherent in master-slave relationships. Eventually, Jacobs escapes, living in hiding in an attic for seven years before moving to the North. Written as a plea to Northern women against the ills of slavery, Jacobs’s memoir is fascinating and a must-read classic.
The true story of an individual’s struggle for self-identity, self-preservation, and freedom, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl remains among the few extant slave narratives written by a woman. This autobiographical account chronicles the remarkable odyssey of Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897) whose dauntless spirit and faith carried her from a life of servitude and degradation in North Carolina to liberty and reunion with her children in the North.
Written and published in 1861 after Jacobs’ harrowing escape from a vile and predatory master, the memoir delivers a powerful and unflinching portrayal of the abuses and hypocrisy of the master-slave relationship. Jacobs writes frankly of the horrors she suffered as a slave, her eventual escape after several unsuccessful attempts, and her seven years in self-imposed exile, hiding in a coffin-like “garret” attached to her grandmother’s porch.
A rare firsthand account of a courageous woman’s determination and endurance, this inspirational story also represents a valuable historical record of the continuing battle for freedom and the preservation of family.
Quotes from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
God judges men by their hearts, not by the color of their skins.
I can testify, from my own experience and observation, that slavery is a curse to the whites as well as to the blacks. It makes white fathers cruel and sensual; the sons violent and licentious; it contaminates the daughters, and makes the wives wretched.
Cruelty is contagious in uncivilized communities.
There are no bonds so strong as those which are formed by suffering together.
My Master had power and law on his side; I had a determined will. There is might in each.
About Harriet Jacobs
Harriet Jacobs is an African-American author whose autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, was published in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent. Jacobs was born into slavery in North Carolina. After being sexually harassment by her master, she hid in an attic for seven years before escaping to the North. She dies in 1897 at the age of 84.