The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
Nigerian-born Olaudah Equiano (c.1745-97), also known as Gustavus Vassa, was sold into slavery as a child and endured the horrors of the transatlantic slave ships. He later worked on board Royal Navy vessels, receiving an education and converting to Christianity. Buying his freedom in 1766, he embarked on several voyages before settling in London, where he became involved in the causes of anti-slavery and the welfare of former slaves. Published in 1789, this successful two-volume autobiography boosted the abolitionist cause, providing a first-hand account of the experience of Africans on both sides of the Atlantic. An important document in the history of slavery and immigration, it remains a classic work of black writing. Volume 1 begins with Equiano's background and kidnapping, and the Atlantic crossing. He recounts his adventures in the Royal Navy during the Seven Years' War, and subsequent experiences of merchant trading in the Americas.