1745 – Born in Essaka (in present-day Nigeria). A self-proclaimed West African sold into slavery and later freed.
1756 – Equiano was kidnapped at age 11 and taken to the West Indies. From there he went to Virginia, where he was purchased by a sea captain, Michael Henry Pascal, with whom he traveled widely.
1766 – He received some education before he bought his own freedom.
1786 – In London, he became involved in the movement to abolish slavery. He was a prominent member of the ‘Sons of Africa’, a group of 12 black men who campaigned for abolition.
1788 – As a major voice in this movement, Equiano petitioned the Queen of England.
1789 – His autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; or, Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself, with its strong abolitionist stance and detailed description of life in Nigeria, was so popular that in his lifetime it ran through nine English editions and one U.S. printing and was translated into Dutch, German, and Russian.
– Equiano’s most important work is his autobiography, which became a best seller, rivaled in popularity by Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.
– In his later Miscellaneous Verses, he idealizes Africa and shows great pride in the African way of life, while attacking those Africans who trafficked in slavery (a perspective further shown by his setting forth not only the injustices and humiliations endured by slaves but also his own experience of kindness, that of his master and a community of English women).
1792 – Equiano married an Englishwoman, Susanna Cullen, and they had two daughters.
1797 – Equiano died on the 31st of March.
2001 – A critical edition of The Interesting Narrative, edited by Werner Sollors—which includes an extensive introduction, selected variants of the several editions, contextual documents, and early and modern criticism—was published.