Olaudah Equiano


Olaudah Equiano and the book he wrote, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Written by Himself, are both remarkable. The author was born in 1745 as the son of a titled village elder in Essaka, Igboland, in what is today (northeastern) Nigeria. Abducted as an eleven-year-old and sold as a slave, he spent ten years in slavery before he managed to buy his freedom. Continuing, as a free man, the life of a seafarer, he traveled widely across the Atlantic and its adjacent seas. The autobiography Equiano wrote and first published in 1789 was a commercial success in its time and exercised a lasting influence on the genre.

Olaudah Equiano is included in this web site focusing on American roads precisely for the questions he raises about an alleged “Americanness”—and of course, because he is a forerunner and an important role model as an autobiographer.


A chronological survey
of Equiano’s life
from BBC’s educational division
A biographical sketch
by a leading scholar on Equiano’s life and works

Equiano’s travels in fourteen cartographic chapters
traced by a student from Bradley University

Summarizing and Contextualizing The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
by a student from Bradley University

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