A Hairdresser's Experience in High Life / Edition 1

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Overview

Here is the first fully annotated edition of a landmark in early African American literature - Eliza Potter's 1859 autobiography, A Hairdresser's Experience in High Life. Potter was a freeborn black woman who, as a hairdresser, was in a unique position to hear about, receive confidences from, and observe wealthy white women - and she recorded it all in a revelatory book that delighted Cincinnati's gossip columnists at the time. But more important is Potter's portrait of herself as a wage-earning woman, proud of her work, who earned high pay and accumulated quite a bit of money as one of the nation's earliest "beauticians" at a time when most black women worked at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. Because her work offered insights into the private lives of elite white women, Potter carved out a literary space that featured a black working woman at the center, rather than at the margins, of the era's transformations in gender, race, ant class structure. Xiomara Santamarina provides an insightful introduction to this edition that includes newly discovered information about Potter, discusses the author's strong satirical voice and proud working-class status, and places the narrative in the context of nineteenth-century literature and history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Insightful. . . . Santamarina's editorial work recovers Potter's autobiography and uncovers assumptions about the world from which that text arose."—Choice
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807833353
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2009
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Eliza Potter (born 1820) was an African-American hairdresser in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Xiomara Santamarina is associate professor of English at the University of Michigan. She is author of Belabored Professions: Autobiography and Black Women's Labor (UNC Press) and several essays on early African American literature.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

A Note on the Text ix

Introduction Eliza Potter xi

Notes xxx

Suggested Readings xxxiv

The Author's Appeal 1

1 My Debut 3

2 England 13

3 America 20

4 Saratoga 28

5 Leaving Saratoga-Burning of the Baggage Car-Visit to New York 55

6 Newport-The Maid's Story 64

7 Minnie 72

8 Natchez-New Orleans 84

9 Cincinnati 116

Appendix A Biographical Information on Eliza Potter (1820?-1893) 179

Appendix B Newspaper Reviews of A Hairdresser's Experience in High Life 183

Notes 199

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