Teacher Guide

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Lesson Plan

Introduction to Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself, published in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent, stands as one of the great slave narratives. The work was edited and has an introduction by the famous abolitionist Lydia Maria Child. For many years Child was assumed to be the author of the work. In the 1970s the scholar Jean Fagan Yellin was able to verify that the work was not fictitious and was indeed written by Jacobs herself. It is the first published narrative written by a female former slave.

The book was written from 1853 to 1858 while Jacobs worked at the Hudson River home of Nathaniel Parker Willis (called Mr. Bruce in the book). Jacobs wrote it in...

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