Skip to Main Content

African American Women Writers

Harriet Jacobs (?1813-1897), memoirist, was born into slavery in Edenton, North Carolina, in the autumn of 1813, although she was never certain of her actual date of birth. As the child of slaves she was born a slave, but her parents, Delilah and Daniel Jacobs, protected her so that, as she was later to write: 'I was born a slave; but I never knew it till six years of happy childhood had passed away.' Jacobs' father was a carpenter, and such was his skill that, as Jacobs recalls, 'On condition of paying his mistress two hundred dollars a year, and supporting himself, he was allowed to work at his trade, and manage his own affairs. His strongest wish was to purchase his children; but, though he several times offered his hard earnings for that purpose, he never succeeded.' Such was the comfort of Jacobs' family home that 'though we were all slaves, I was so fondly shielded that I never dreamed I was a piece of merchandise, trusted to them for safe keeping, and liable to be demanded of them at any moment.'

Genre: Autobiographies and memoirs; History writing; Life stories

More about Harriet Jacobs at ProQuest One Literature

By Harriet Jacobs

About Harriet Jacobs