Harriet Jacobs was not an ordinary slave girl, and her autobiography is not an ordinary account of the miseries of slavery. She was a slave who triumphed not only by luck but by careful planning and daring deceit. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, the most important and most widely read female slave narrative, presents the subtle humiliations in addition to the simple brutality of slave life, especially for enslaved women and children.
This gripping account, first published under the pseudonym Linda Brent, skilfully employs rhetorical and narrative devices to create a gripping and evocative story. Indeed, until Jean Yellin’s over work a century later, it was regarded as a work of fiction.