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About Mary Prince
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Mary Prince

About Mary Prince

An Interview with Mary Prince

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Mary Prince was born a slave in 1788, in Bermuda, where her first owner, Charles Myners, sold her to Captain Williams. Under his ownership she was hired out to Mrs Pruden, whose daughter Fanny began teaching her to read - the happiest period in her life. This came to an end with the death of Mrs Williams, after which Prince and her siblings were put up for sale. Prince was sold to the brutal Captain I_, and then to Mr D_, who took her to Turks Island to work in the salt ponds. In 1815 she was sold to John Wood in 1815 and taken to Antigua. At about this time Prince joined the Moravian church, where she met Daniel James, a freeman, whom she married in 1826.

In 1828 Prince was taken to England by Mr and Mrs Wood. In November of that year, she reported to the Anti-Slavery Society in Aldermanbury, East London, that she had been ill-treated by the Woods, and she exercised her right to freedom under English law. However this right was only valid while she remained in England, and Prince had to choose whether to remain a freewoman in England or return to her husband in Antigua as a slave. She decided to stay, and in 1829 she was employed as a domestic servant by Thomas Pringle, the secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society. Prince dictated her History to Susannah Strickland, an acquaintance of the Pringles, and it was published in 1831, running to three editions that year. An article, published in Blackwoods magazine casting doubt on the authenticity of Prince's story led Pringle to successfully sue the publisher of the magazine in 1833, and later that year Wood brought a libel case against Pringle. Prince gave evidence at both trials.

It is thought that Prince remained in England after 1833, perhaps continuing to work as a servant. Her History is an important contribution to early black writing, and it offers a glimpse into the lives of enslaved men and women whose life stories cannot be traced.

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