This image is the cover for the book Iola Leroy

Iola Leroy

The classic Civil War novel about a Southern woman who is unaware of her mixed-race heritage until she is sold into slavery by her uncle.

The beautiful, refined daughter of a wealthy Mississippi planter and slaveholder, Iola Leroy leads a privileged life and attends school in the North. But a family tragedy leads to a stunning revelation: Iola is half Black. She is sold off into slavery and sent away from her family.

Eventually freed by the Union army, Iola embraces her newfound identity as a Black woman and becomes a nurse at a military hospital. When the war finally ends, Iola’s struggles continue. But she rises to meet the challenge, working hard to improve life not only for herself, but for all Black Americans.

Originally released in 1892, Iola Leroy is one of the first novels by an African American woman published in the United States.

“Clearly Harper’s words prove her awareness of the cultural and political functions of narrative. . . . Iola Leroy is a novel filled with the complexities and contradictions of black-and-female existence in America in the nineteenth century. While the success of the novel is indisputable in terms of copies sold, what is harder to measure is the extent to which it altered cultural and racial attitudes.” —The Women’s Review of Books

Frances E. W. Harper

Open Road Media