Harriet Jacobs: Selected Writings and Correspondence Logo
Introduction  |   Documents  |   Resources  |   Gilder Lehrman Center  

Introduction

Dust Jacket Cover to HARRIET JACOBS, A LIFE
Harriet Jacobs: A Life, by Jean Fagan Yellin. Winner of the 2004 Frederick Douglass Prize

Harriet Jacobs, best known as the fugitive slave author of the American slave narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself, was also actively involved in reform movements before, during, and after the Civil War. However, until the groundbreaking work of Professor Jean Fagan Yellin, little was known about her. David W. Blight, director of the Gilder Lehrman Center, commented: "Jean Yellinís biography of Harriet Jacobs has been eagerly anticipated by scholars and readers for almost 20 years. To say that the result more than justifies the wait would be an understatement. This book is an extraordinary example of historical detective work, as well as a powerful piece of literature."

Winner of the 2004 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, Harriet Jacobs: A Life recovers the experience of this once-forgotten but remarkable woman who lived 29 years as a slave, seven of which were spent in a cramped hiding place to escape a sexually predatory master. Jean Fagan Yellinís book explores beyond Jacobsís own autobiography and traces Jacobsís flight to the North, the harassment she endured from her former owner, and her return South during the Civil War to establish a school for black refugees behind Union lines.

Harriet Jacobs: Selected Writings and Correspondence consists of a collection of 15 documents and a brief resource guide to books and websites. The website was created by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition with the assistance and cooperation of Professor Yellin and the University of North Carolina Press, who will be publishing the Harriet Jacobs Papers. More information on the Frederick Douglass Book Prize is available online on the Gilder Lehrman Center Website.