In episode 06 of Her Voice Echoes we hear about the early teenage years of Harriet Jacobs, a woman born a slave in 1813 in Edenton, NC. Harriet spent 27 years as a slave, eventually escaping to the North, where in 1861 she published a book called, “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.” Episode 006 includes chapters 5-8 of that book. In these chapters, Harriet talks about how Dr. Flint, her enslaver, is pressuring her to have sex with him. She describes the jealousy of Dr. Flint’s wife and her fear for her life. And, we hear about her first love and her attempts to get Flint to sell her to this young man, who is a skilled carpenter and a free black man.
The book is an autobiographical novel written to appeal to the white women of the North. It combines the genres of slave narrative and sentimental novel and focuses on the themes of family, motherhood, chastity and sexual oppression. It was considered bold and indelicate at the time it was written. Harriet doesn’t dance around the topic of white men abusing black women. It was initially published as a serialized novel in a newspaper and then published as a book in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent.