Introduction by Hazel Carby
Iola Leroy was originally published in 1892, during a time of black disenfranchisement, lynching, and Jim Crow laws. It is the story of a “refined mulatto” raised to believe she’s white until she and her mother are sold into slavery. Iola becomes an outspoken advocate for her people and a critic of race-mixing. Her story offers an important portrait of black life during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
“One of the most significant contributions to early Black literature.”
-Jane Campbell, Belle Lettres
“This edition of Iola Leroy, with Hazel Carby’s introduction, is required reading.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
“A moving rite of passage story, the ‘ordeal of suffering’ of an enlightened black girl growing up. . . . A superior book.” —Doris Grumbach, National Public Radio
“In an era full of extraordinary black women, Frances Watkins Harper . . . was one of the most extraordinary among them. If she had published nothing else, Iola Leroy would have been sufficient of her to claim a place among the intellectuals of her time.” —Nellie McKay, University of Wisconsin-Madison