Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl - Literary Touchstone Classic

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9781580493369: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl - Literary Touchstone Classic

This Prestwick House Literary Touchstone Classic includes a glossary and reader's notes to help the modern reader appreciate Jacobs' perspectives and language. DRIVEN BY THE HORRORS of slavery and fear of a predatory master, Harriet Jacobs, a young black woman, makes the fateful, life-altering decision to escape. Long thought to be the work of a white writer, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is the captivating and terrifying story of Jacobs' daily life on a plantation in North Carolina, her seven years of hiding, and her ultimate triumph. Jacobs wrote her autobiography in 1861, under a pseudonym to protect the lives of the friends and family she left behind, and the work had been essentially lost until the mid-twentieth century. Now recognized as a classic, unflinching portrait of slave life, Incidents exposes slavery on a level comparable only to that of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.

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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.

From the Inside Flap:

This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition combines the two most important African American slave narratives into one volume.
Frederick Douglass's Narrative, first published in 1845, is an enlightening and incendiary text. Born into slavery, Douglass became the preeminent spokesman for his people during his life; his narrative is an unparalleled account of the dehumanizing effects of slavery and Douglass's own triumph over it. Like Douglass, Harriet Jacobs was born into slavery, and in 1861 she published Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, now recognized as the most comprehensive antebellum slave narrative written by a woman. Jacobs's account broke the silence on the exploitation of African American female slaves, and it remains crucial reading. These narratives illuminate and inform each other. This edition includes an incisive Introduction by Kwame Anthony Appiah and extensive annotations.

"From the Trade Paperback edition.

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