Introduction by Kwame Anthony Appiah
Commentary by Jean Fagan Yellin and Margaret Fuller
This Modern Library edition combines two of the most important African American slave narratives—crucial works that each illuminate and inform the other.
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 essential reading.
Includes a Modern Library Reading Group Guide
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 Jacobs was born in Edenton, North Carolina, in 1813, to slave parents. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, the first full-length narrative written by a former slave woman in America, is a record of events and experiences of slavery seen through the eyes of the young Harriet during the years she lived in captivity in Edenton, through her escape, when she becomes a fugitive in the North at age twenty-nine, and concluding soon after a northern white friend buys her freedom in 1852.
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.