Maryam E AL-Matouq

 

Shahad M Monayes

 

 

Harriet Jacobs

 

From Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Ι. Childhood

 

 

Author`s Biography:

Date of birth: 1813

Place of birth: Edenton, North Carolina

Family Background: Harriet's mother Delilah was the daughter of a slave named Molly Horniblow. (Margaret Horniblow was her mistress/owner.) Her father, Daniel Jacobs, was a carpenter and slave to Andre Knox, a doctor, and was the son of Henry Jacobs, a white man. Harriet never knew she was a slave until her mother died when she was six years old. At that time, Harriet and her siblings moved in with their grandmother, Molly.

"[We] lived together in a comfortable home; and, though we were all slaves, I was so fondly shielded that I never dreamed that I was a piece of merchandise." (Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl 1809)

Education: When Harriet moved in with her grandmother, her mistress Margaret taught Harriet to read and sew, and both Margaret and Molly gently and firmly grew Christian virtues in Harriet.

"My mistress had taught me the precepts of God's Word ..... While I was with her, she taught me to read and spell; and for this privilege, which so rarely falls to the lot of a slave, I bless her memory."(1811)

Accomplishments: Harriet Jacobs is well-known for her autobiographical account, titled “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”: Written by herself, which was first published in 1861 under another name even with all of the names changed.

Besides, she is the first African American woman known to authorize a slave narrative in the United States.

This writing is among the most significant of personal slave histories. However, most people believed the book was a fictional novel written by a white author. Moreover, she presents her life, detailing the cruel oppression and sexual harassment by her master and her ultimate victory of pride and personal freedom.

Therefore, Harriet Jacobs’s book was one of the first books that opened discussions about the sexual harassment and abuse endured by slave woman that was a topic that even made many abolitionists uncomfortable.