Autobiography/Memoir

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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Harriet Jacobs

1861

Harriet Jacobs (b.1813 or 1815 – March 7, 1897) was an African-American writer whose autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, published in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent, is now considered an "American classic" Enslaved from her birth in 1813 in North Carolina, Harriet Jacobs was taught to read and write by her enslaver. But when her enslaver died, young Jacobs was left to a relative who treated her far worse. When she was a teenager, her enslaver made sexual advances toward her. Finally, one night in 1835, she sought freedom.

She did not get far and wound up hiding in a small attic space above the house of her grandmother, who had been set free by her enslaver some years earlier. Incredibly, Jacobs spent seven years in hiding, and health problems caused by her constant confinement led her family to find a sea captain who would smuggle her north.

Jacobs found a job as a domestic servant in New York, but life as a free person was not without dangers. There was a fear that those seeking to capture freedom seekers, empowered by the Fugitive Slave Law, might track her down. She eventually moved to Massachusetts. In 1862, under the pen name Linda Brent, she published her memoir "Incidents in the Live of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself."