104 pages 3 hours read

Harriet Jacobs

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1861

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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

  • Genre: Nonfiction; autobiography/memoir
  • Originally Published: 1861
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile 740L; grades 9-12; college/adult
  • Structure/Length: 41 chapters; approx. 176 pages; approx. 7 hours, 57 minutes on audio
  • Central Concern: Harriet Jacobs, known in the narrative as “Linda Brent,” writes about her life as an enslaved woman. Fearing for her life and for the lives of her children, she hides in her grandmother’s attic crawlspace for seven years until she can flee north. Though she finds freedom in New York, she is not safe from those who seek to return her to the South.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Violence against enslaved people; sexual harassment and abuse; racism; racial slurs

Harriet Jacobs, Author

  • Bio: 1813-1897; Black abolitionist and writer born into slavery; organized and helped fund schools for fugitive and freed enslaved people in the South after the Civil War; Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, her only book, is a widely taught American classic and one of the first to address an enslaved woman’s struggle for freedom; first appeared serially in the New York Tribune until it was deemed too shocking to continue publishing; gained much respect after the publication of her book, both in the US and abroad