Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

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Much of what is known about the experience of slavery comes from first-person accounts written by formerly enslaved men. In this volume, Jennifer Fleischner examines the first- and best-known female account of life under, and escape from, slavery — Harriet Jacobs' autobiography. In her introduction, Fleischner shows how Jacobs used the written word to liberate herself and promote the end of slavery by carefully discussing her sexual exploitation as a slave in ways that would inspire sympathy in — and not offend — her Victorian white, middle-class, female audience. The rich collection of related documents that accompany Jacobs' complete narrative — including a selection of Jacobs' letters and her brother's account of some of the same incidents Jacobs describes — illuminate Jacobs' life, her thoughts about writing, and her relationships with white women abolitionists. Document headnotes, a chronology, questions for consideration, a selected bibliography, and a chart of the pseudonyms Jacobs used for her real-life characters further enrich this important contribution to the history of slavery in America.

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