The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave Narrative

TitleThe History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave Narrative
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsPrince, Mary
Number of Pages72
PublisherDover Publications
CityMineola, New York

Mary Prince dictated her history to a white woman in England, where she finally claimed her freedom after a life of horrendous abuse under several masters.

Her narration is part of an anti-slavery pamphlet that contains other fascinating documents as well: a letter from her last master viciously defaming her character and a presentation of evidence to refute this calumny by Thomas Pringle, Secretary of Britain's Anti-Slavery Society.

Among other events, Mary's history includes daily beatings by sadistic masters who, while entrusting her with considerable responsibility, punished the tiniest fault with insane cruelty. It describes her ten-year stint working long hours in the salt ponds of Turk's Island, labor that broke her health. It shows her growing attraction to religion and her attempts to receive spiritual instruction.

I found this book compelling on two levels: as a detailed personal account of the appalling oppression of black slaves in the West Indies - and as a look at the compassionate work of anti-slavery activists. Those who opposed slavery had to have their wits about them, for the slave owners were greatly debased by their unholy power over other humans and would stoop to any chicanery to defend their position.

Mary Prince's history triggered a lawsuit and countersuit when it was published in 1831. It was instantly in great demand by the public and was of great value to the Anti-Slavery Society in their campaign against the slave trade.

I recommend this book both as a classic of Black history and an unforgettable story. [Pato, Amazon Review]

Reprint EditionOriginally Published 1831
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