Portrait of West African writer and former slave Olaudah Equiano.

Olaudah Equiano

(c. 1745 - 1797)

Olaudah Equiano wrote that he was kidnapped at the age of eleven in Africa and eventually brought to Virginia via Barbados. Among his masters during ten-odd years of slavery were a plantation owner, a lieutenant of the British navy, and a Philadelphia-based Quaker merchant. The author of the first internationally best-selling slave narrative—The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; or, Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself—Equiano bought his freedom in 1766, settled in London, became an abolitionist, published his book in 1789, and died in 1797.

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