Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black
Originally published in 1859, yet neglected for over 100 years, Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black has proven to be an enduring contribution to our understanding of free blacks in the19th century. The novel, written by Harriet E. Wilson (1825–1900) traces the trials and tribulations of Frado, a mixed-race girl who grows up as an independent servant to a white New Hampshire family.
Harriet Wilson, from Milford, New Hampshire, was the first African American of any gender to publish a novel on the North American continent. Our Nig was published anonymously in Boston, Massachusetts, and was not widely known. The novel was discovered in 1982 by the scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., who documented it as the first African-American novel published in the United States.
One hundred and fifty years after its first apperance, this classic of African American literature is revisited by scholars Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Richard J. Ellis. Utilizing the latest research to shed light on the author's life—in particular her participation in the Spiritualist movement as a “medium” and educator after the Civil War—and with a new chronology, select bibliography, and additional background notes, this new edition further enhances our appreciation for Our Nig.
Author: Harriet E. Wilson, edited, with an introduction by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Richard J. Ellis