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Hardcover Harriet Jacobs: A Life Book

ISBN: 0465092888

ISBN13: 9780465092888

Harriet Jacobs: A Life

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Book Overview

In this remarkable biography, Jean Fagan Yellin recounts the full adventures of Harriet Jacobs, before and after slavery. Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, one of the most widely read... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

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Eye witness

The story of Harriet Jacobs is compelling. She was a fugitive in the North and in the South. Her autobiography, INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL, was published prior to Emancipation. Her home town was Edenton, North Carolina. The text of INCIDENTS was authenticated through documents by the author and other researchers. In her lifetime Jacobs achieved some celebrity as the writer of INCIDENTS. Until she was six Harriet did not know she was a slave. She was born in Chowan County, North Carolina, in 1813. Prosperity in Edenton ended after the Revolution. In 1795 a hurricane closed Roanoke Inlet. A canal through the Great Dismal Swamp impoverished Edenton. Harriet's father was a carpenter. She learned to read and to write and to sew. A twelve Hatty was moved to another establishment. She had been willed to a three year old mistress. Next she learned that her father had died. He was buried In Providence, (rediscovered, cleared, and reconsecrated in February 2001). Hatty and her brother John were preoccupied with freedom. They knew of four people who took passage on a ship to Liberia from Elizabeth City. Hatty's grandmother became emancipated. The war of Hatty's life began as she opposed a Dr. Norcom. She formed an alliance with a person of greater reputation in the community with whom she had two children. It was a teenager's solution to vulnerability. At age 21 in 1835 she ran from Edenton but ended up spending seven years hiding out in the vicinity in very restricted quarters. In her cramped hiding place Harriet Jacobs experienced sensory deprivation. In 1842 she was taken by boat to Philadelphia. Workers in the anti-slavery movement were impressed with Hatty's beauty and with her efforts to overcome her isolation. Jacobs went to New York, and to Boston, and to England. She stayed in England for ten months. Later her freedom was purchased. Her venture into becoming a published writer began with a letter to a newspaper. Her autobiography was anonymous. L. Maria Child edited the manuscript and supplied an introduction. During the Civil War Harriet Jacobs worked in Washington, D.C. as a relief worker among the so-called contrabands, former slaves. After the war she and her daughter traveled to Savannah and later to England to raise money for some of the destitute former slaves. They settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts and then went on to Washington, D.C., probably to enable the daughter to obtain a teaching position.

An extremely compelling biography

If you have ever read Harriet Jacobs's narrative, "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl", you will be gasping to know more about the lives of this extraordinary woman, her two children and the other players in the plot of her young life.Given the information available, Jean Fagan Yellin serves it up for us brilliantly thanks to her many and well presented, often extremely detailed accounts of Jacobs's movements after escape from North Carolina. It is clear from summation of events in Jacobs's life that not only was she an intensely loving, protective and self-sacrificing mother, and seemingly held in good regard by all she came into contact with, she was also an extremely dedicated and active ambassador to the poor, the weak, and the defenseless, travelling all over the country and abroad for this singular cause, remaining to her death a champion of her people.One of the great things about this book is that in detailing Jacobs's life, we get a better glimpse into the lives of the people important in her own life - her grandmother Molly Horniblow, her brother John S., her son Joseph and daughter Louisa, her half brother Elijah, the Norcoms and, perhaps to a slightly lesser extent, Sam Sawyer. By documenting aspects of the lives of those in Jacobs's immediate affairs, we are able to form a clearer understanding of her character, values, motives and relationships with others.Yellin's biography is a fascinating historical tome in its own right, capturing the political atmosphere and mood of Civil and post Civil War America. Yellin does a grand job documenting key events, attitudes and individuals to shape the pre war Abolishionist movement, post war reconstruction and emerging institutions, and the Suffragist movement for women and freed African Americans.

An inspiration!

Above all else, there is a single conclusion to be drawn from this truly remarkable book.Anyone who has a sincere interest in the history of the United States should feel slighted that Harriet Jacobs? story isn?t already entrenched in the American consciousness alongside Harriet Tubman?s or Sojourner Truth?s. In HARRIET JACOBS A LIFE, Jean Fagan Yellin unequivocally reinvigorates a truly unique and vital American perspective all but lost to us. Here is the story of a woman born into slavery, fighting that condition with a resolve almost unprecedented in its selflessness. To save her children from the sexual torment she experienced as a girl, Jacobs hides in the crawl space over a store room for nearly six years, before finally escaping to the North. And though the boldness of her resistance is indeed characterized by such large singular acts of heroism, it is also made palpable by her persistent and unrelenting immersion in the mechanics of 19th century social activism, a mechanism not altogether ready for the sort of sexual realism she would air. She speaks plainly of that which the 19th century woman traditionally did not, and in doing so galvanizes a population by the raw horror of her experience as a chattel slave.Yellin?s biography not only places Jacobs? life in its proper historical, cultural, and political context, it does so with rich descriptions of the world she inhabited; the smell of the Edenton docks, the lecture halls and drawing rooms of Boston?s abolitionist movement, the grim specter of war torn Savannah, and the wizened frames of Freedmen refugees in the nation?s capital.This is what makes the book so compelling, the utter pervasiveness of Yellin?s research, fleshed out in masterful prose. And she is not content merely to paint the broad technicolor picture, but also to reduce the story of Jacobs? daily life to its very nuts and bolts, the struggle to keep food on the table, to keep herself and her family at the imparting end of charity. Here is a woman who in one hour effects the core of the anti-slavery movement while in the very next toils as a nursemaid, cook, or seamstress. The expression of that seeming dichotomy is the miracle of this book. And gives the modern reader precious little room to make any excuse for not standing up. Yellin?s book is an unforgettable biography of a remarkable woman, as well as an invaluable point of inspiration in troubling times.

A Great Achievement

Jean Fagan Yellin, in her book HARRIET JACOBS A LIFE, has given to all of us a monumental story of courage, determination, and perseverance. Researching Harriet Jacobs' book, INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL, must have been a daunting task for Yellin, but the scholarship she presents in her 1987 Harvard edition of INCIDENTS gives a clearer picture of the struggle Harriet Jacobs endured during her years in slavery. Now with this new book, Yellin has enlarged for all of us the life that Jacobs lived after her desperate tale in INCIDENTS. Yellin, through her meticulous and painstaking research, gives us the full dimensions of Jacobs' entire life, as a writer, and as a woman who recognized the urgency to educate those who had suffered lives in slavery.Whenever I pick up INCIDENTS, no matter where in the entire book, I feel empowered by Jacobs. With the publishing of this new work by Yellin, I feel empowered not only by Jacobs, but also by Yellin. These are two great achievements by two amazing women.
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