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Harriet Jacobs: A Life

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  78 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl remains the most-read woman's slave narrative of all time. Jean Fagan Yellin recounts the experiences that shaped Incidents-the years Jacobs spent hiding in her grandmother's attic from her sexually abusive master-as well as illuminating the wider world into which Jacobs escaped. Yellin's groundbreaking scholarship res ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published February 16th 2005 by Basic Civitas Books (first published 2003)
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Jul 26, 2011 Tammie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful book that entwines the narrative of Harriet Jacob's life (written by herself) and the factual information gathered from documents by Jean Fagan Yellin. This book is a fantastic view into the life of a person who goes from a girl (not even knowing she was a slave) to a young adult who uses the only thing she has (sex) to escape a brutal master and get freedom for her children and herself, to a woman who makes several large accomplishments in her life such as becoming a published autho ...more
Gina Cesati
May 19, 2016 Gina Cesati rated it really liked it
I may be biased in my opinion of this book as I am an admirer of Harriet Jacobs. However, this book was one of my top reads in the last few months. Yellin is an excellent historian and there I no better person to write the first published biography of Jacobs. Her narrative mirrors the incredible events of her life, legitimizing the authenticity of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Yellin uses both biographical fact and historical narrative to weave a compelling account of the life of Harrie ...more
Jan 29, 2015 Bertport rated it liked it
Yellin has done us all a great service by rediscovering and meticulously documenting the factuality of Harriet Jacobs as the real author of a reliable autobiography that still shocks readers to this day. After gaining her freedom, Jacobs went on to help others, being active and prominent in abolitionist circles, then in assistance to refugees and freedmen during and after the Civil War. Following Jacobs, Yellin also gives us a portrait of race relations in the woman suffrage movement and across ...more
Jan 31, 2014 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Before reading this remarkable biography of this female slave turned escapee , I had never heard of Harriet Jacobs...As a young adult, she fled the house of her master, a doctor who was bent on raping and using her for progeny to populate his slave numbers....After arriving safely in the north, she was interviewed by abolitionists and her story became well known among their circles there.....So why is she not as well known as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass?..Certainly her bravery and abil ...more
Jan 22, 2012 Nelson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jean Fagan Yellin's work in documenting the fact that Harriet Jacobs' incredible narrative is in fact an autobiography and not the fabrication of Lydia Maria Child permanently puts scholars in her debt. She is naturally in the best position to write the first biography of Jacobs. The book she produces is in a few respects a disappointment however. Most of the first half of the book necessarily relies on Jacobs' own narrative and is relegated to filling in documentary details here and there where ...more
Jul 11, 2016 Roberta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
I am working on a project concerning black women in 19th century upstate New York and some of the other books I was reading kept mentioning Harriet Jacobs. So I thought I should read something about Jacobs and this biography looked easier to read (in 20th century English instead of 19th century English) than Jacobs' own book Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

This book was interesting and it is not written in that academic I-just-got-them-to-publish-my-thesis-with-a-pretty-picture-on-the-cov
Mar 23, 2014 Shira rated it it was amazing
Prof. Yellin has not only brought to life a remarkable woman whose daughter could have 'passed,' but chose not to. Yellin has brought to light, through the life of Harriet Jacobs a series of community connections from the Deep South to Boston which were created and used to help people in the most desperate of circumstances during the overcrowded wartime Federal City.
May 05, 2015 Sue rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biographies
This is a fantastic biography of the subject of the famous slave narrative "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl." The book is well written and an interesting read that adds so much to the originial narrative.
Apr 15, 2009 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Well written, reads like a novel. I compare it to Ann Hagedorn's Beyond the River. Harriet Jacobs was a heroic woman whose resilience and industry seem unmatched in modern times.
Dec 07, 2014 Smithhemb rated it it was amazing
Great book! Impressive historical detective work, compelling interpretation, and a wide ranging and very interesting story.
Nov 06, 2015 Christina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: orals-exam
If you enjoyed Incidents In the Life of a Slave Girl and want historical background and more information about Jacobs' family and relations, you should definitely read this book!
Feb 18, 2012 Valerie rated it really liked it
excellent...a perfect companion to "Incidents..."
Yunis Esa
Mar 15, 2016 Yunis Esa rated it it was amazing
The contribution to study of the life Harriet Jacob done in this show a legitimate care to the historic figure. Yellin lifetime achievement should be a justifiable center for historians to strive accomplish. This work should be seen as a benchmark of how to legitimacy a historical figure such as Harriet Jacob.
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