'The degradations, the wrongs, the vices, that grow out of slavery, are more than I can describe.'
Harriet Jacobs was born a slave in the American South and went on to write one of the most extraordinary slave narratives. First published pseudonymously in 1861, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl describes Jacobs's treatment at the hands of her owners, her eventual escape to the North, and her perilous existence evading recapture as a fugitive slave. To save herself from sexual assault and protect her children she is forced to hide for seven years in a tiny attic space, suffering terrible psychological and physical pain.
Written to expose the appalling treatment of slaves in the South and the racism of the free North, and to advance the abolitionist cause, Incidents is notable for its careful construction and literary effects. Jacobs's story of self-emancipation and a growing feminist consciousness is the tale of an individual and a searing indictment of slavery's inhumanity. This edition includes the short memoir by Jacobs's brother, John S. Jacobs, 'A True Tale of Slavery'.
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Few accounts of American slavery are as memorable as Jacobs' harrowing memoir. Born a slave in North Carolina in 1813, Harriet was in her teens when her owner, Dr James Norcom, first started to proposition her. Harriet was forced to take refuge in her grandmother's tiny attic for nearly seven years, before finally escaping to the North. R J Ellis's introduction to this latest edition is an insightful overview of the slave narrative for a new generation of readers. * Lesley McDowell, Independent (Radar) *
Jacob's story is so dramatic, so illustrative of the horrors of slavery - the sickening violence, the waste of potential, the unpredictability of lives lived according to slave owner's caprices - that is almost reads as a novel * Victoria Segal, The Guardian *
It's easy to be appalled at the notion of slavery, but this astonishing account, published in 1861, by Harriet Jacobs, born a slave in the American South, emphasises the personal experience. She makes us feel the minutiae of daily life as a slave. * Lesly McDowell, The Sunday Herald *