The History of Mary Prince

Title page from The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave, by Mary Prince. London: F. Westley and A. H. Davis, 1831. Image from the British Library.

The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave was the first detailed description of the experiences of a female enslaved person in the Caribbean. Her account of the gendered violence and abuse of slavery proved influential in garnering support for the growing anti-slavery movement in England.

Although the book is said to be “related by herself,” Prince’s position as a formerly enslaved person limited her ability to write and publish (although she had learned to read). Her narrative was produced with the help of two abolitionists involved in London’s Anti-Slavery Society, seeking to gain sympathy for the cause. Thomas Pringle encouraged her to share her story and acted as editor. Susanna Strickland transcribed Prince’s narrative. Although the text seeks to communicate the authenticity of her narrative, the involvement of these white abolitionists may have influenced what Prince chose to share and how it was conveyed.

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