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The Amazing Life of Olaudah Equiano


Disputed portrait (detail) of Olaudah Equiano (c.1745-1797) in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter; it has also been suggested that this is the composer Ignatius Sancho

OLAUDAH EQUIANO was a prominent figure in the campaign for the abolition of slavery. You can learn much more in The Amazing Life of Olaudah Equiano, a BBC Radio 4 documentary by two London Freelance Branch members - Deborah Hobson, our Vice-Chair, and Marc Wadsworth.

The half-hour documentary will be broadcast on Tuesday 24 May at 4pm. It's available after that in the UK on BBC Sounds.

Born around 1745 in what was then the Kingdom of Benin, Olaudah was kidnapped and sold into slavery as a child and taken - via Barbados - to the British colony of Virginia. As an unpaid servant to his owner, a Royal Navy lieutenant, he experienced combat in the Seven Years' War.

Taught to read and write by his next owner, a Quaker merchant, Olaudah became a trader in his own right. He later bought his freedom from the King and moved to England, where he found fame in the abolitionist cause. His bestselling autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African (1789) is still a key text in understanding that era. The book was one of the first known published works by a Black author in England.

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