This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition combines the two most important African American slave narratives into one volume.
Frederick Douglass's Narrative, first published in 1845, is an enlightening and incendiary text. Born into slavery, Douglass became the preeminent spokesman for his people during his life; his narrative is an unparalleled account of the dehumanizing effects of slavery and Douglass's own triumph over it. Like Douglass, Harriet Jacobs was born into slavery, and in 1861 she published Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, now recognized as the most comprehensive antebellum slave narrative written by a woman. Jacobs's account broke the silence on the exploitation of African American female slaves, and it remains crucial reading. These narratives illuminate and inform each other. This edition includes an incisive Introduction by Kwame Anthony Appiah and extensive annotations.
About the Author
Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (Frederick Douglass) was born a slave in Talbot County, Maryland. He took the name Douglass after escaping from the South in 1838.
As a leader in the abolitionist movement, Douglass was famed for his eloquent yet incisive political writing. And, like his near-contemporary, Booker T. Washington, understood the central importance of education in improving the lives of African Americans, and was therefore an early proponent of desegregation.
A firm believer in equal rights for all, Douglass attended a meeting of the National Council of Women in Washington, D.C., in the hours before his death in February 1895.
Harriet Ann Jacobs escaped slavery and went on to write Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, one of the most influential slave narratives of all time. Born in North Carolina in 1813, Harriet Ann Jacobs escaped slavery and moved to New York where she wrote the powerful autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. The powerful and comprehensive slave narrative became one of the most influential books of the period. Revisionist author Lamont Tanksley, has used this powerful work to produce his debut fiction novel, Incidents in the Life of a Girl: The Unattainable Mulatto.
Kwame Anthony Appiah, the president of the PEN American Center, is the author of The Ethics of Identity, Thinking It Through: An Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy, "The Honor Code, " and the prize-winning "Cosmopolitanism". Raised in Ghana and educated in England, he has taught philosophy on three continents and is currently a professor at Princeton University.