Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavas Vassa, the African.
Written by Himself (London, 1789 ). (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at
Brown University; also, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division,
Frontispiece from first edition of Equiano's Narrative. Equiano, an Igbo from
present-day eastern Nigeria, was kidnapped from his natal village. In 1757,
at about the age of 11 or 12, he was transported from the Bight of Biafra to
Barbados, where he briefly stayed--unsold-- and then was taken to Virginia
where he remained about a month. His new master, a British Naval officer,
took him to London and gave him the name Gustavas Vassa. When in his
mid-forties, he wrote his "narrative" to arouse in Britain's
Parliament "a sense of compassion for the miseries which the slave-trade
has entailed on my unfortunate countrymen." For details and other
references to works relating to Equiano, see Jerome S. Handler, Survivors of
the Middle Passage: Life Histories of Enslaved Africans in British America,
Slavery & Abolition, vol. 23 (2002), pp. 25-56.