Harriet Jacobs

By T. H. M. Gellar-Goad | January 24, 2015

Harriet Jacobs, born in Edenton, North Carolina, in 1813, was the first formerly enslaved woman to write a narrative of freedom: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself, first published in 1861, now widely recognized as a masterpiece and a seminal part of the genre of 19th-century African American narratives of freedom.  Incidents pseudonymously details Jacobs’ early life in slavery, her exposure to grievous harm and sexual violence at the hands of a cruel master, her marriage to and bearing of children by a different white man, her efforts to get her children out of the South, and her own flight from slavery — first hiding locally for seven years in her grandmother’s attic, and then fleeing to New York and eventual, hard-bought freedom.

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