Title page of Volume 1 of the first edition (1789) of the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797). Equiano was enslaved at a young age but gained his freedom in 1766. After a period of travel as a seaman, much of his later life was spent working for the abolitionist movement, in which he was a leading figure. The name Gustavus Vassa was given to him by one of his former owners. It was common for slave owners to rename their slaves ? it demonstrated the complete control that an owner had over his 'property,' effectively denying the enslaved person's own identity. Although Equiano continued to use the name Vassa throughout his life, for this title page of his autobiography he reasserts his African name. He tirelessly travelled the length and breadth of Britain to promote and sell his book, and at the same time spoke out against the slave trade. The book played a significant role in furthering the anti-slavery movement, - but it was also a best seller of its day and a financial success for Equiano. During his lifetime it was published in 9 British editions (all with substantive changes), it was translated into Dutch, German and Russian, and was also a success in America. Further posthumous editions appeared in the 19th century.