Olaudah Equiano was born in 1745 in the Kingdom of Benin. He was captured and sold as a slave in 1754. He converted to Christianity and was baptized in 1759. He learned to read and write in 1765 and bought his freedom in 1767.
In 1773, Equiano joined an expedition to the Arctic and sailed around the world. Between 1780 and 1783 he settled in London and became active in the abolitionist movement. In 1789, Equiano published his autobiography, “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African.” The book was instrumental in the passage of British Slave Trade Act of 1807, which abolished the African slave trade. In 1792 he married Susannah Cullen, an Englishwoman. Equiano died in London in 1797.