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First published in England in 1831, "The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave Narrative" is one of the most important narratives of the slave experience in the Americas. This book describes in detail the reality of the slave experience: the dehumanization of Black people, the moral degradation of their masters, and the ever-present violence. Prince's story is also an important early defense of the humanity of people of African descent. She notes that slave masters "think that black people are like cattle, without natural affection. But my heart tells me it is far otherwise." Prince tells of her labor in the salt ponds of Turk's Island, her conflict with a hired mulatto woman, her spiritual life in the Moravian Church, and many other topics. Ultimately, she celebrates the desire and hope for freedom: "All slaves want to be free." After enduring years of cruelty and abuse at the hands of several families who successively owned her in Bermuda and the West Indies, Mary Prince traveled to London in 1828, in the service of the Woods family. There she was granted her freedom in accordance with English law. But England's anti-slavery ruling did not extend to Antigua, and, in order to remain free, Prince had to abandon hopes of rejoining her husband, who had been left behind.
About the Author
Mary Prince (1788) was a Bermudian woman, born into slavery in Brackish Pond, which is now known as Devonshire Marsh, in Devonshire Parish, Bermuda. The published story of her slavery was the first account of the life of a black woman to be published in England and the book had a galvanizing effect on the anti-slavery movement.