Harriet Jacobs

Paper Text – $16.00

ISBN 978-0-8101-2716-6
Publication Date
May 2011
Page Count
92 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Harriet Jacobs

A Play
Lydia R. Diamond

Throughout her meteoric rise into the upper ranks of young playwrights, Lydia R. Diamond has boldly challenged assumptions about African American culture. In Harriet Jacobs, she turns one of the greatest of American slave narratives, Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, into a penetrating, rousing work of theater. Jacobs’ book—which was published in 1861 and only partially serialized in Horace Greely’s New York Tribune before it was deemed too graphic—chillingly exposed the sexual harassment and abuse of slave girls and women at the hands of their masters. Harriet Jabobs: A Play organically incorporates theatrical elements that extend the book’s enormous power. Through active scenes, piercing direct address, and slave narratives, Diamond is able to give new expression to the horrors and legacies of slavery. Diamond presents African American culture in all its richness—with slavery as a part of it, but not its defining aspect. Though harrowing, Harriet Jacobs addresses the necessary task of reenvisioning a difficult chapter in American history.
About the Author

Lydia R. Diamond is a Huntington Playwriting Fellow and a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists. Harriet Jacobs premiered at Steppenwolf and was developedand presented at The Kennedy Center’s New Visions New Voices festival. Her other plays include Stage Black, The Gift Horse, Stick Fly, Voyeurs de Venus, and The Inside, which was published in TriQuarterly. A multiple nominee for Joseph Jefferson and Black Theater Alliance awards, Diamond’s adaptation of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye won the Black Arts Alliance Image Award for Best New Play. Northwestern University Press previously published Stick Fly (2008), and The Gift Horse is anthologized in Northwestern’s 7 Black Plays: The Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting (2004). A graduate of Northwestern University, Diamond has taught playwriting at Columbia College Chicago, DePaul University, Loyola University, and Boston University.

"Remarkable . . . a very sophisticated consideration of how this most heinous of institutionalized horrors seeped into the cultural bloodstream and how some rose beyond it. And it also confronts how we view such first-person slavery narratives today."—Chicago Tribune 

"Lydia R. Diamond’s searing dramatization of America’s legacy of slavery . . . is a stirring, intricately layered work"—Boston Globe

"touching and powerful . . . a winner of a show"—Providence Journal