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 Harriet E Wilson

Harriet E Wilson

Birth
Milford, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA
Death 28 Jun 1900 (aged 75)
Quincy, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Quincy, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Plot Row 1337 (old section), grave 7
Memorial ID 10199769 · View Source
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In 1859, Harriet E. Wilson, a thirty-four year old mulatta seamstress living in Boston, became the first African American to publish a novel in North America. This book, entitled "Our Nig, or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, in a Two-Story White House, North, Showing that Slavery's Shadows Fall even There, by 'Our Nig'", was the semi-autobiographical story of a half-orphaned six year old girl named Frado who was abandoned by her mother at the house of a well-to-do farming family. The child was physically and mentally abused by some of the members of the household, but with the help of others Frado was able to endure until she reached eighteen and was released from her indentured status. In poor health, she tries to make her way in the world, until she falls in love with and marries a black man who claims to be an escaped slave, and who makes a living travelling about giving lectures on his experiences. He deserts her, while she is carrying their first child, and informs her that he was a fraud. To support herself in his absence, she pens "Our Nig."

The real Harriet Wilson, called "Hattie", embraced Spiritualism, and survived the death of her young son and persistent ill-health to become a clairvoyant, "trance reader" and "psychic healer", living in Boston's South End. Prominent in local Spiritualist circles, she travelled about New England after the Civil War, delivering lectures on various topics. In 1900, Mrs. Wilson was employed as a nurse by the Silas H. Cobb family of Quincy, when she fell ill. When she died, two months later, the Cobb family buried her in their family plot.


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  • Created by: R H Pitts
  • Added: 1 Jan 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 10199769
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Harriet E Wilson (15 Mar 1825–28 Jun 1900), Find A Grave Memorial no. 10199769, citing Mount Wollaston Cemetery, Quincy, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by R H Pitts (contributor 46773585) .