Olaudah Equiano and Adoption



c. 1745-1797

Olaudah was an Igbo from Nigeria, captured by a slaver when he was about 11 and transported first to the West Indies, then Virginia and finally to England, all in the space of about a year. His owner's sisters taught him to read and write.

After being sold several more times and being transported around Europe and the Americas, he eventually managed to buy his freedom in 1766 and returned to England the next year. He traveled widely before becoming involved in abolitionism. He was a major (and possibly the only honorable) figure in the disastrous Sierra Leone resettlement scheme of 1786.

He wrote a number of books and pamphlets, including his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, which was the first important work in English by a slave and is recognized as the paradigm of the slave narrative genre.


Fryer, Peter. Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain. (London: Pluto Press, 1984) Bygott, David. Black and British. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992) Black Atlantic Writers of the Eighteenth Century: Living the New Exodus in England and the Americas, edited by Adam Potkay and Sandra Burr. (New York: St. Martins Press, 1995) Obiechina, Emmanuel."1994 Ahiajoku Lecture. Nchetaka: The Story, Memory and Continuity of Igbo Culture." Available at: [1] "Olaudah Equiano." [Includes portrait]. Available at: [2] "Olaudah Equiano, 1745-1797." [Includes portrait]. Available at: [3] "Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African: A Short Biography." [Includes portraits]. Available at: [4]