Olaudah Equiano – The Interesting Man behind the Narrative

Enslaved as a child, Olaudah was able to buy his freedom later in life. He became a writer and influential abolitionist.

In 1789 Olaudah Equiano (c.1745-1797) published the first edition of ‘The Interesting Narrative’, which was to do much to raise awareness of the horrors of the slave trade, as well as describe one individual’s journey towards freedom.


The book was reissued many times in both Equiano’s lifetime and after his death, remaining an influential text. This talk will look at the man behind the narrative and how he used his personal experiences to raise awareness of African enslavement. It will also explore the lesser known journeys in Equiano’s life, including learning to play the French horn, serving in the Royal Navy during the Seven Years’ War and in 1773, joining an expedition to find a passage to Asia via the North Pole.


Clare Weston has worked within museums for over twenty years, beginning her career at Wilberforce House in Hull, birthplace of the MP and abolitionist, William Wilberforce (1759 -1833). Clare worked at Soho House, meeting place of the Lunar Society, from 2004 to 2011 and in 2006 became the Project Curator of ‘The Equiano Project’, a partnership between The Equiano Society and Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. This culminated in an exhibition, ‘Equiano – From Enslavement to Abolition’ in 2007. Clare currently works in the interpretation and research team at Black Country Living Museum.

Location: This talk takes place in the Heritage Learning Space, Floor 4, Library of Birmingham.

Date and time: Sat, 29 April 2023, 11:30 – 12:30 BST