Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Chinese translation

Author Harriet Jacobs

Edited by Joe Lockard

Translated by Shih Penglu

The first Chinese translation of Harriet Jacobs' important memoir of slavery.

[From an English version] Portions of Harriet Jacobs’ “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” first appeared serially in 1861 in the New York Tribune; however, publication ceased before the completion of the narrative due to its being deemed as too shocking for the average newspaper reader of the day. Harriet Jacobs wrote under the pseudonym Linda Brent because, as an escaped slave, having her identity revealed would have jeopardized her freedom under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. One of the first of the slave narratives, Jacobs’ work was a passionate appeal to white women living in the northern United States to enlighten themselves as to the evils of slavery. Jacobs describes her life from a young age living as a slave in North Carolina. Her formative years are relatively idyllic and it is not until her mother dies and her mistress bequeaths her to a relative that she begins to discover the true horror of her position. What follows is a harrowing narrative of sexual abuse and fight for survival. While the work was almost immediately overshadowed by the start of the American Civil War it has since found its place as one of the most important of all the slave narratives, distinguishing itself as one of the first from the female perspective.


Joe Lockard is an associate professor of English at Arizona State University.

Cover of Chinese translation of 'Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl' by Harriet Jacobs, edited by Joe Lockard
Date published
Shanghai Jiao Tong University Press

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