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Frontispiece of Equiano's autobiography

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Frontispiece of Equiano's autobiography

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This portrait of Olaudah Equiano was used as the frontispiece (illustration opposite a book's title page) of his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African (1789).

In its introduction, Equiano states that the main purpose of the book is to "excite in [the reader's] august assemblies a sense of compassion of the miseries which the Slave-Trade has entailed on my unfortunate countrymen." The book succeeded dramatically in this regard, since it offered a vivid first-hand account of an individual born in Africa and abducted into the slave trade. One of England's abolitionists said that Equiano was of "more use to the Cause than half the People of the country."

Image Credit: The Board of Trustees of the National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, Merseyside Maritime Museum

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Olaudah Equiano

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