L. Maria Child, a prominent white abolitionist, agreed to edit Jacob's book, although she apparently did little to alter the text except to rearrange some sections, suggest the removal of one chapter, and add material to another. In a letter to a friend, Child wrote, "I abridged, and struck out superfluous words sometimes; but I don't think I altered fifty words in the whole volume."
The subject matter of the book -- sexual abuse of slave women -- was taboo in the mid-19th century, and Harriet had struggled over whether or not to expose herself so publicly. But she realized the significance of her story and so decided to go ahead, although she wrote under the psydonym, Linda Brent, and assigned fictitious names to everyone mentioned in the book. Child, too, was aware of the story's significance, writing in the book's introduction:
"I am well aware that many will accuse me of indecorum for presenting these pages to the public; for the experiences of this intelligent and much-injured woman belong to a class which some call delicate subjects, and others indelicate. This peculiar phase of Slavery has generally been kept veiled; but the public ought to be made acquainted with its monstrous features, and I willingly take the responsibility of presenting them with the veil withdrawn."
Harriet Ann Jacobs was born a slave in Edenton, North Carolina in 1813. After both her mother, Delilah, and father, Elijah, died during Jacobs's youth, their maternal grandmother,... [continues]
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