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PHOTO ESSAY

Slave Narratives

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Cover page of Harriet Ann Jacobs' "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl."

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is the first known narrative to be written by a female slave. Like authors of numerous slave narratives, Harriet A. Jacobs wrote her memoir with the help of a white abolitionist. In her 1891 narrative Jacobs describes the specificities of the harassment she received as a female slave at the hands of her master. Her narrative was often dismissed as being too "melodramatic" because of her exploration of the complicated feelings around her own sexuality and sexual abuse. Today Jacobs' narrative is particularly important to the African American literary canon as a precursor to works by authors such as Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, and Toni Morrison who explore the particulars of black women's experiences.

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