Harriet Jacobs biography wins book prize

Dec. 15, 2004 at 11:28 AM

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Jean Fagan Yellin's biography of slave Harriet Jacobs, who wrote her own autobiography in 1861, is winner of the $25,000 Frederick Douglass Book Prize.

One of the nation's top literary awards, the prize will be presented at a gala dinner at the Yale Club in New York on Feb. 24. It will be a major feature of Black History Month, according to the announcement by Yale University's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, which selects the prize-winner.

It said Yellin spent 20 years researching "Harriet Jacobs: A Life" (Basic Books) and cited it as the best non-fiction book on the subject of slavery in 2004.

Yellin is distinguished professor emeritus at New York's Pace University. Her book enriches Jacob' own account of her years as a slave, including seven years of hiding from a sexually predatory master, her escape to the North, her harassment by her former owner, and her return to the South during the Civil War to establish a school for black refugees behind Union lines.

Jacobs book was widely read in the North and is considered influential in strengthening the abolition movement, the announcement said.

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