Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Birthplace: Baltimore Maryland
September 24,1825- February 22,1911
Frances was born to free black parents who died when she was three years old. At
age 13, she did domestic work for a family who let her use their library. Soon she
began to write her own poetry and in 1854 her collection of verse and prose, Forest
Leaves, was published.
When she moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to teach in the early 1850's, she joined the fight against
slavery with her writings. As she became more involved in the anti-slavery movement, she became an
effective speaker whose sense of humor could draw large audiences. In 1854, she toured Canada and her
writings appeared frequently in the Provincial Freeman, an antislavery newspaper. In 1859, she became
the first Black American to publish a short story, "The Two Officers." Her novel, Iola Leroy or Shadows
Uplifted, which was published in 1892, made her the second Black woman to have a novel published in
the United States.