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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself [Kindle Edition]

Harriet Jacobs
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a slave narrative that was published in 1861 by Harriet Ann Jacobs, using the pen name "Linda Brent". The book is an in-depth chronological account of Jacobs's life as a slave, with the decisions and choices she made to gain freedom for herself and her children. It addresses the struggles and sexual abuse that young women slaves faced on the plantations, and how these struggles were harsher than what men went through as slaves. The book is considered sentimental and written to provoke an emotional response and sympathy from the reader toward slavery in general and slave women in particular for the struggles they went through with rape, the pressure to have sex at an early age, the selling of their children, and the treatment of female slaves by their mistresses.

Jacobs began composing Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl while living and working at Idlewild, the Hudson River home of writer and publisher Nathaniel Parker Willis, who was fictionalized in the book as Mr. Bruce. Portions of the book were published in serial form in the New-York Tribune, owned and edited by Horace Greeley. Jacobs's reports of sexual abuse were considered too shocking to the average newspaper reader of the day, and publication ceased before the completion of the narrative.

Boston publishing house Phillips and Samson agreed to print the work in book form if Jacobs could convince Willis or Harriet Beecher Stowe to provide a preface. She refused to ask Willis for help and Stowe turned her down, though the Phillips and Samson company closed anyway. She eventually managed to sign an agreement with the Thayer & Eldridge publishing house and they requested a preface by Lydia Maria Child. Child also edited the book and the company introduced her to Jacobs. The two women remained in contact for much of their remaining lives. Thayer & Eldridge, however, declared bankruptcy before the narrative could be published.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl was published as a complete work in 1861, after having been first published in serial form over several months in a newspaper called the New-York Tribune. When the book finally came out, and as it was starting to be discussed and widely distributed, the Civil War started, and had a tremendous effect on the book's resonance with the public, how widely it was distributed, and who had time to read it—everyone was busy with the war effort. The book was originally written as a way for Jacobs to get her story told, in part to help the abolitionist movement, and also to appeal to white affluent middle class women who were the ones reading this type of literature at the time. At the time the book was published the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was still in effect, making it a felony for anybody who found a runaway slave not to return the slave to the owner. The events in the book also help to highlight the impact of the Fugitive Slave Act and its effects on people in the north as well as the south.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is strongly tied to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1852, in terms of themes; both were written as sentimental anti-slavery books. Though Uncle Tom’s Cabin is fictional, the book addressed the notion of everyone being involved in the perpetuated cycle of chattel slavery, even women, people living in the north, and people who did not own slaves. That book resonated so well within society that some people, including President Abraham Lincoln, have said that it started the Civil War.

Born into slavery, Linda spends her early years in a happy home with her mother and father, who are relatively well-off slaves. When her mother dies, six-year-old Linda is sent to live with her mother’s mistress, who treats her well and teaches her to read. After a few years, this mistress dies and bequeaths Linda to a relative. Her new masters are cruel, and Dr. Flint, the father, takes in interest in Linda. The story continues from here.

About the Author

Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813-1897) was an African American writer, who was born into slavery, but managed to gain her freedom. She was a reformer and an abolitionist speaker. In addition, under the name Linda Brent, she wrote Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, one of the first autobiographies about living in slavery. That narrative included her accounts of the sexual abuse female slaves suffered, as well as the struggle for freedom.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 30681 KB
  • Print Length: 166 pages
  • Publisher: Balefire Publishing (1 Oct 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009KC6ISM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #463,005 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read (review of the paperback, not Kindle) 27 July 2014
By BrynG
If you were like me and thought you had an idea what the life of a slave must have been like, then think again and read this!
I understood that slaves were bought and sold by rich whites to work on their estates in order to maximise profit. In my ignorance I did not appreciate, until reading this book, the extent to which a slave was actually completely and utterly owned. That ownership was absolute and extended to the offspring of women slaves also, so there was a never ending supply of slaves into the future. It was shocking to find out that a slave owner left their slaves to their offspring in their will in EXACTLY the same way as we leave objects of worth such as a home to ours. This meant that a slave who had worked for decades for a mistress could, on the death of that mistress, find herself the slave of the deceased's daughter (who may be very young indeed, e.g. 3yrs old in one example in this book).
The book also tells of the torture and abuse that was systematically handed out to slaves with importunity by the 'civilised' whites.
For the most part the events of Harriet's life are told in a somewhat cool tone; you are told what happens, but she doesn't then pour over the emotional distress she feels, but leaves it for the reader to imagine. On occasions she comes across as extremely forgiving, understanding and genuinely sorry for some of the kinder slave owners who she felt were also being brutalised (emotionally at least) by this evil system.
This is, as everyone knows, an incredibly important book, and whilst the style may seem old fashioned to some, I found it an easy but always troubling read.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable 26 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is unreadable on your kindle. I contacted amazon uk via live chat and to be fair they acknowledged there was a problem. It looks like the original book's pages have been photographed. You cannot edit I.e. make the page or text bigger therefore unable to read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars The image for the COVER IS RACIST and SEXIST! 5 Dec 2013
By Lina Murillo - Published on
While this book is a very important historical work and the necessity to read it, especially by young people, grows each year, I must say something about this cover. Why, oh, why would you put such a sexualized picture of a young black woman on the cover? It is not only racist but incredibly sexist. This book is about the battles of Harriet Jacobs to overcome sexual advances from her white male owner and her harrowing escape. Please, please use a different image that does not continue to violate the bodies of women of color, specifically black women, who were victimized not only physically but psychologically by the white male gaze under slavery.
1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable without a good magnifying glass 14 July 2013
By Skip Gunter - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love my kindle because I am able to adjust the size of the fonts, but this book appears as each page is copied but there is no way I am able to make the very small writing readable even with number 3 magnifying glasses. I well try using a magnifying glass but it well be a real pain, this should not be sold as it is presented. the kindle has spoiled me. P Gunter
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not get enought 5 July 2013
By Miriam Reyes - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had to read this story for History class but I truly did grow to enjoy every minute of it
1.0 out of 5 stars I cannot read the book on my kindle 14 Jun 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have sent many messages to Amazon explaining to them that the print is too small and illegible and I cannot read it. Nothing has been done. This is the first time I have received a book like this. No one is listening. A friend of mine told me it is a great book
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read 25 April 2013
By Boo-Boo - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I think everyone should read this...just like everyone should read about how American Indians were treated and how the Jews were 'We Don't Forget'. Things like this should never ever happen.
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