Title page from "The History of Mary Prince", 1831
Mary Prince’s experience makes extraordinary reading after Maria’s journal. No picture of her exists, and, like millions of the other black slaves in the Caribbean, there would have been no record of her existence had she not managed to escape from her owner, John Wood, who brought her to England in 1828, finding refuge with some Moravian missionaries. Her book, “The History of Mary Prince.” was published in 1831 and was the first substantial account of the life of an enslaved woman.
Born in Bermuda approximately in 1788, she was separated from her mother as child when their master, about to get married, decided to sell her and two of her sisters in order to raise money for the wedding. Her mother weeps as she prepares to take her “little chickens to market”. “Take a last look at them”, she tells the master’s daughter, with whom the children had grown up, “maybe you will see them no more". When Mary saw her mother again, years later, she had lost her mind and couldn’t recognise her daughter.