Harriet Jacobs by Jean Yellin
A Life

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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 slave narratives of all time, recounts through the pseudonymous character named "Linda" the adventures of a young female slave who spent seven years in her grandmother's attic hiding from her sexually abusive and cruel master. Jean Yellin takes us inside that attic with Harriet Jacobs and then follows her on her escape to the North, where she found safe haven with Quaker abolitionists.Drawing upon decades of original research with never-before-seen archival sources, Yellin creates a complete picture of the events that inspired Incidents and offers the first rounded picture of Jacobs's life in the thirty-six years after the book's publication. Harrassed by her former owner, living under threat of recapture until the end of the Civil War, Jacobs survived poverty, ran a boarding house, and built a career as a political writer and speaker, struggling all the while to provide for her family. Jean Yellin brings to life the struggles and triumphs of this extraordinary woman whose life reflected all the major changes of the nineteenth century, from slavery to the Civil War to Reconstruction to the origins of the modern Civil Rights movement.

About Jean Yellin

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Jean Fagan Yellin is the author of Women and Sisters and The Intricate Knot. She divides her time between Goldens Bridge, New York, and Sarasota, Florida.
Published December 24, 2003 by Basic Civitas Books. 432 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, War. Non-fiction

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Yellin displays a pleasing and unusual ability to be both euphonious and punchy as she weds Jacobs’s story to the politics of the times: Nat Turner and David Walker’s Appeal, Frederick Douglass’s North Star, and Samuel Cornish’s Rights of All.

Jan 15 2004 | Read Full Review of Harriet Jacobs: A Life

Publishers Weekly

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With the 1987 edition of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl , originally published in 1861, Pace University English professor Yellin recovered the real identity of the author behind the pseudonymous Linda Brent: Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897).

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Project MUSE

While finishing the biography project, more than twenty years since she had first begun exploring Jacobs's background, Yellin realized she had gathered enough materials about Jacobs, Jacobs's immediate and extended families and those of her Southern enslavers, and diverse others, to form for sepa...

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Project MUSE

But she died when Jacobs was eleven, and an unsigned codicil to her will left Jacobs the property of the three-year-old daughter of her brother-in-law, Dr. James Norcom, the notorious Dr. Flint of Jacobs's narrative.

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