DREAM BIG Little Leader: Who was Mary Prince?

Mary Prince was a British abolitionist and autobiographer, born in Bermuda to an enslaved family of African descent.

Prince was sold to a number of owners and subjected to brutal treatment. Prince ended up in Antigua belonging to the Wood family. In December 1826, she married Daniel James, a former slave who had bought his freedom and worked as a carpenter and cooper. For this act, she was severely beaten by her master. In 1828, she travelled to England with her owners but eventually ran away and found freedom however she was not able to return to her husband as freedom was possible in England alone.

Subsequent to her escape, when she was living in London, England, Mary became the first woman to present an anti-slavery petition to Parliament. She also became the first black woman to write and publish her slave narrative The History of Mary Prince (1831), which was the first account of the life of a black woman to be published in the United Kingdom. This first-hand description of the brutalities of enslavement, released at a time when slavery was still legal in Bermuda and British Caribbean colonies, had a galvanising effect on the anti-slavery movement. It was reprinted twice in its first year.

Prince had her account transcribed while living and working in England at the home of Thomas Pringle a founder of the Anti-Slavery society.

Extracts from Mary’s book (created by the Abolition Project) can be downloaded here.

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