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