Wilson’s father died and her mother abandoned her when she was young. As an orphan, she was made an indentured servant.
After the end of her indenture, Wilson worked as a house servant and seamstress. On August 18, 1859, Wilson copyrighted her novel “Our Nig: or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black” and it was published on September 5, 1859. The book is generally considered an autobiographical novel and it highlighted the brand of racial oppression practiced in New England.
After publishing the novel, Wilson lectured throughout New England, delivering lectures on labor reform and children’s education. Wilson died June 28, 1900. In 1982, “Our Nig” received national attention when it was rediscovered by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.