One of the only surviving female slave narratives from the twentieth century, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is an autobiographical account written by Harriet Jacobs. The narrative documents the extreme adversity she overcame before she eventually achieved her freedom. Born into slavery, young Harriet was taken into the care of her mother’s mistress, who treated her relatively well. However, a few years later, the mistress passed away and her cruel, abusive relatives inherited Harriet.
Under the pseudonym ?Linda Brent,” Jacobs recounts within the book the horrific injustices she encountered: sexual abuse, extreme cruelty, exploitation, being denied motherhood when her children are sold to another slave owner. In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet’s agonizing descriptions are indicative of what many other enslaved African American women suffered through during this tragic time in American history.
Published in 1861, just on the brink of the Civil War, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a harrowing literary work bringing to light the courage, empowerment, and perseverance a young slave found in her desperate search for freedom.