After enduring years of cruelty and abuse at the hands of several families who successively owned her in Bermuda and the West Indies, Mary Prince traveled to London in 1828, in the service of the Woods family. There she was granted her freedom in accordance with English law. But England's anti-slavery ruling did not extend to Antigua, and, in order to remain free, Prince had to abandon hopes of rejoining her husband, who had been left behind. Seeking help from Britain's Anti-Slavery Society, she was offered domestic employment and met her employer's friend, Susanna Strickland, to whom she dictated this gripping story of her life.
When it was published in 1831, Prince's History provoked a libel action and counter-suit and required three editions to keep up with public demand. A moving, painstakingly detailed record of the experiences of the author and of her fellow slaves, it became a powerful instrument in the Anti-Slavery Society's campaign against the slave trade. Sara Salih's introduction and notes place the narrative within the context of black history, and examine, as well, Victorian constraints, which required the narrative to be made palatable for contemporary audiences. This edition also includes a chronology and supplementary material on slavery and the case of Mary Prince.
Author Bio: Mary Prince, born in Brackish Pond, Bermuda, in 1788, was the property of Charles Myners until she was given to Captain Williams, and then sold to a series of other masters in Bermuda, Turks Island, and Antigua where in 1826 she married a free man. In 1828, she moved to London where she dictated her narrative.
Sara Salih is a lecturer at Wadham College, Oxford.