Harriet Jacobs uses fictional names to protect the identities of persons and alters events and characters for dramatic effect. The characters are believed by scholars to generally correspond to Jacobs and people in her life.
Linda Brent (stand for Harriet Jacobs), the book's protagonist and a pseudonym for the author.
William Brent is John Jacobs: Linda's brother, to whom she is close. William's escape from Mr. Sands shows that even a privileged slave desires freedom above all else.
Ruth Nash is Margaret Horniblow.
Emily Flint is Mary Matilda Norcom, Dr. Flint's daughter and Linda's legal master.
Dr. Flint is Dr. James Norcom. Based on Harriet Jacobs' master, the character of Dr. Flint is drawn with emphasis on his villainy.
Aunt Martha is Molly Horniblow. She is one of the narrative's most complex characters, representing an ideal of domestic life and maternal love. She works tirelessly to buy her children's and grandchildren's freedom.
Mr. Sands is Samuel Tredwell Sawyer; he is Linda's white lover and the father of her children. After arranging to buy the children, he repeatedly breaks promises to Linda to free them.
Benny Sands is Joseph Sawyer.
Ellen Sands is Louisa Sawyer.
Mr. Bruce is Nathaniel Parker Willis.
Gertrude Bruce is Cornelia Grinnel Willis.