Author, Harriet E. Wilson
Various editions of Wilson's novel with introductions by Henry Louis Gates, Gabriel Foreman or R.J. Ellis
OUR NIG; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black In a Two-Story White House, North
Showing that Slavery's Shadow Falls even there
Generally accepted as an autobiographical novel, Wilson’s innovative work integrates two genres of the American literary tradition─ the Sentimental Novel and the 19th century Slave Narrative─ and stands today as the first known novel published by a black woman in English and the earliest novel published in the United States by an African American.
The novel unfolds with the six-year-old mulatto protagonist, Frado, being abandoned by her white mother and placed into indentured servitude. While in service to the Bellmont family, Frado is cruelly abused by Mrs. Bellmont and her daughter, Mary. Not even the sympathetic members of the family intervene on her behalf. Frado endures this harsh abuse for 12 years until she reaches her majority and earns her freedom at age eighteen. Weak and sickly after the years of severe abuse, Frado departs the Bellmont household and tries desperately to earn a living on her own. She eventually marries a fugitive slave named Tom, who lectures for the Abolitionist Movement. Soon after their baby son George is born, Frado is once again abandoned and again must find a way to support herself. The novel ends with the author speaking in her own voice as she appeals for support from her readers, not through Type your paragraph here.