The Life of Olaudah Equiano, first edition


Olaudah Equiano (c. 1745–1797), also known as Gustavus Vassa, is the most famous 18th-century British writer of African heritage. His autobiography tells of his early life in what is now Nigeria, his kidnapping and traumatic transportation to the Americas and his experiences of enslavement and regaining freedom. Equiano became an Abolitionist and a businessman, and applied the skills of these callings to his book, publicising it with flair and using book promotion events to call for an end to the slave trade.

This is the first of several contemporary editions of his book. In 2007, this volume was carried in procession at a special service in Westminster Abbey to commemorate the bicentenary of Britain’s Abolition of the Slave Trade Act.

Full title:
The interesting narrative of the life of O. Equiano, or G. Vassa, the African ... written by himself (London, 1789)
1789, London
Printed book
Olaudah Equiano
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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