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The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself was the first work that influenced the nineteenth-century genre of slave narrative autobiographies. Written and published by Equiano, a former slave, it became a prototype for those that followed.
Kidnapped in Africa as a child, Equiano was transported to the Caribbean and then to Virginia, bought by a Quaker shipowner, and placed in service at sea. Aboard various American and British ships, he sailed throughout the world, and he continued to do so after having purchased his freedom in 1766. Once settled in London, he fought tirelessly to end slavery.
This edition of Equiano's Narrative places the text in the center of abolitionist activity in the late eighteenth century. Equiano knew many of the leading abolitionist figures of his time, and this edition allows readers to trace the common ideas and cross-influences in the works of the political and literary figures who fought for the end of slavery in America and England. The original 1789 text of the narrative has been used for the Broadview edition with Equiano's subsequent emendations included in the appendices.
Olaudah Equiano: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself.
Appendix A: Letters and Reviews
1. Letters and Reviews Added to Other Editions of The Interesting Narrative
2. Reviews of The Interesting Narrative Not Included in Equiano’s Editions
1. The Analytical Review, May 1789.
2. The Gentleman’s Magazine, June 1789.
3. The Oracle, 25 April, 1792.
4. The Star, 27 April, 1792.
Appendix B: Writings of the First Abolitionist Movement
1. A Caution to Great Britain and her Colonies, Benezet
2. Some Historical Account of Guinea, Benezet
3. An Account of the European Settlements in America, Burke
4. An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Clarkson
5. "The Negro’s Complaint," Cowper
6. Letters from an American Farmer, de Crevecoeur
7. Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery...., Cugoano
8. An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa, Falconbridge
9. An Answer to the Rev. Mr. Clarkson’s Essay on Slavery...., Francklyn
10. "On the Slave Trade," Franklin
11. A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life...., Gronniosaw
12. Scriptual Researches on the Licitness of the Slave-Trade, Harris
13. "Of National Characters," Hume
14. Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson
15. A Narrative of the Lord’s Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant...., Marrant
16. Thoughts upon the African Slave Trade, Newton
17. Britain’s Commercial Interest Explained and Improved, Postlethwayt
18. An Essay on the Treatment and Conversion of African Slaves...., Ramsay
19. A Vindication of the Address, to the Inhabitants of the British Settlements, on the Slavery of the Negroes in America, Rush
20. Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho.
21. A Representation of the Injustice and Dangerous Tendency of Tolerating Slavery, Sharp
22. Cursory Remarks upon the Reverend Mr. Ramsay’s Essay...., Tobin
23. An Apology for Negro Slavery, Turnbull
24. Thoughts upon Slavery, Wesley
25. The Speech of William Wilberforce ... on the Question of the Abolition of the Slave Trade
26. "A Poem on the Bill Lately Passed for Regulating the Slave Trade," Williams
27. A Vindication of the Rights of Men, Wollstonecraft
28. Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes, Woolman