Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself (Harriet Ann Jacob)

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
First published: Boston: Published for the Author, 1861, c1860, where it could be obtained at the Anti-Slavery Offices in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and of Thos. Hamilton, 48 Beekman St., New York.
Format: Kindle Edition, File Size: 374 KB, Print Length: 252 pages, Publisher: Mobile Reference (October 5, 2008), Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Language: English, ASIN: B001HHM60C 

This book was originally written in 1859 by Harriet Ann Jacob who was born into slavery in North Carolina.  When she wrote the book, she changed the names and represented herself as Linda Brent. This is the story of her trials and tribulations as an oppressed non-citizen. It shows the true picture of life as a slave, where people were treated worse than animals. It was the first book written by a woman slave.  

The story was very well told, it follows in chronological order, the story of her life.  It starts out with her childhood, where she had a good master who taught her how to read and write and showed her kindness.  Once this master died, she was given to a very mean, uncaring master who made her life hell.  She tells in great detail the great wrongs that were committed on a regular basis to the slaves in her community.  While reading this book, I felt horrified and sickened by what I read.  I always knew that slavery had existed, but I did not really think what it would be like.  Her tale truly bought the reality of that life to me.  

In order to save her children from a life of slavery she decided to run away.  To achieve this end and escape her horrific master, she had to endure seven years in a tiny hidey-hole that was not even big enough to sit up in.  She was required to spend all her time in this space and as a consequence her muscles atrophied so she could hardly move.  This put me in mind of the story of Anne Frank and shows the correlation of wrongs done in both instances, although I felt Miss Jacob’s situation was far worse.  The most surprising thing I gleaned from this story was Miss Jacob’s synopsis of how being a slave-holder harms themselves and their families. I thought these ruminations were very insightful, deep and full of truth.  

This book is an autobiography and it is written in the first person narrative as Miss Jacob describes her life growing up as a slave girl.  She goes into great detail how it is much harder to be a girl in this tyrannical and degrading environment. She struggles with her own decisions and fights with everything in her power to save her children as it was not uncommon for a slave women’s children to be ripped from their mother’s loving arms and sold to some stranger far away. I recommend this book to everyone to read. It is a true story filled with wisdom, hope and love.   








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