Who was Mary Prince?

servante-esclave-ses-matres

“No images survive of Mary Prince herself, but this is the photo that has often been used to illustrate her story.” –The Guardian 

This blog is dedicated to a historical interpretation of Mary Prince and the impact she had on slavery, but gender roles in the nineteenth century. As such, my goal for this first post was to give my readers a general background of Mary Prince- what made her so effectual in the history of slavery.

Growing up, Mary Prince’s childhood was not that different than many of the other slave narratives in popular history. Born into slavery Mary Prince was separated from her family early in her childhood. She would go on to work for a series of cruel masters for the next thirty years of her life.[1] Even after legally gaining her freedom Prince would continue to work as what amounted to an indentured servant for twenty more years. At this point in her life Prince had learned to read and write, and upon receiving a job with Thomas Pringle. [2] Pringle was an abolitionist and a writer- his entrance into Prince’s life would help her to become prominent figure in the growing anti-slavery movement.

Prince’s personal account of life as a slave, titled The History of Mary Prince, was the first written record of a black woman’s life in Great Britain’s anti-slavery movement. [3] Her account became popularized throughout what was known as the British Empire at the time- having the most impact in the colonies (West Indies, Bermuda, South & West Africa, Australia) where slavery was still legal. Her book popularized the debate whether Great Britain should allow the colonies their lead and end the practice of slavery. While many were grappling over the socioeconomic implications of ending slavery in the colonies, Mary Prince’s book stood out as a humanizing voice that many people could relate to.

As I continue to provide personal analysis and interpretation of the legacy of Mary Prince and her writings, I invite any with knowledge on the subject to join the discussion. All serious contributions are welcomed and encouraged

~WDL

 

References

  1. Prince, Mary, and Thomas Pringle. The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave. London: F. Westley and A.H. Davis, 1831. Print.
  2. The History of Mary Prince, p. 5
  3. The History of Mary Prince, p. 26
  4. Wajid, Sara. “Sara Wajid on Mary Prince, a Slave Whose Brutal Account Shocked the Literary
  5. Community.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 19 Oct. 2007. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.
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