Frontis-piece of Olaudah Equiano

It is often thought that Africans sold into slavery had little or no voice in the political campaign against it. However, there were a number of people in British society who had escaped from slavery and who made a significant contribution to abolition such as Ignatius Sancho, Mary Prince and Olaudah Equiano. Equiano’s book, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa the African, published in 1789, told of his personal experiences of life in Africa, capture, enslavement and freedom. He was one of the first people of African descent to be published in Britain. He toured the British Isles recounting his testimony which revealed the harsh realities of transatlantic slavery that many British people did not know about.

Audio readings taken from Equiano’s book

© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK