He is perhaps..one of my absolute favourites..
Olaudah Equiano was a freed slave, and was prominent in London afterwards, supporting campaigns against the slave trade, striving for the abolition of the trade. He came in contact with William Wilberforce after hearing that he too supported abolition and struggled to get supporters for his campaigns, and presented to him the chains and shackles used for the neck, legs and arms which would then be placed on the slaves as they worked. The two maintained a correspondence afterwards. He also wrote an autobiography, in which he described the horrors of being a slave. This book sold thousands of copies and helped in the passing of the Slave Trade Act in 1807.
In his autobiography, Equiano describes how he was captured with his sister, then shipped across to Barbados, then Virginia, where he was sold to a Royal Navy officer, Micheal Pascal whom renamed Equiano Gustavus Vassa after the King of Sweden. He then travelled with Pascal for eight years, during which he was baptized, and learned to read and write. In his biography Equiano describes how he was then sold to a prominent merchant, Robert King, in London. It was during this time that Equiano started earning his own money. While Equiano served as a deckhand, valet and barber for Robert King, her earned money by the means of trade on the side. It took him only three years to earn enough money to buy his freedom. Once he bought his freedom, Equiano describes how he spent the next 20 years of his life travelling the world, including trips to Turkey and the Artic.
Finally in 1786, he became largely involved in the movement for the abolition of slavery, and became a part fo the Sons of Africa, an abolitionist group, in the same year. Three years later, Equiano wrote his autobiography, titled ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African’, and travelled promoting the book. His writings became extremely popular, and made him a very wealthy man. His autobiography is actually one of the first books published by an African writer.
Olaudah later married an Englishwoman, Susanna Cullen in 1792 and had two daughters with her: Joanna Vassa and Anna Maria Vassa. It was a marriage that he would include in editions of his autobiography from 1792 onwards. Susanna unfortunately did at age 34 in February 1796, and Equiano himself died just a year later on 31st March at the age of 52, though sources vary on this subject. Equiano’s place of burial is unknown, too. His youngest daughter, Anna Maria Vassa, died soon after at the age of four, leaving the only surving child, Joanna, with Equiano’s estate and wealth. I love this man, honestly. I tried to explain his life very simply for those who are not at all familiar with him.