The Equiano Centre


Olaudah Equiano

Olaudah Equiano ('Gustavus Vassa'), by Daniel Orme, after W. Denton, stipple engraving, published 1789, National Portrait Gallery

Olaudah Equiano was one of the greatest abolitionists based in London and his autobiography, the Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa the African, perhaps his most famous legacy.  His autobiography tells us that slavers captured him when he was about twelve and he was taken to the Americas.  He was sold on to a British naval officer who renamed him Gustavas Vassa, and eventually to a Philadelphia Quaker merchant Robert King.  Working for payment on King's ships Equiano eventually saved enough to purchase his freedom.  During the latter part of his life he settled in England, and in 1789 he published the Narrative.  One of the most important publications of the abolition movement, it went through nine English editions and was translated into Dutch, German and Russian.  

UCL Neuroscience is now located in Charles Bell House, Riding House Street, on the site of a house where Equiano lived and there is a plaque on the building to mark his presence there.

Numerous publications about Equiano are available as well as various editions of his Narrative.

To find out more about Equiano and events marking his life visit the Equiano Society website.