Mary Prince’s autobiography was first published in 1831 as The History of Mary Prince.
Encouraged by Thomas Pringle, Mary Prince had arranged for her life story to be transcribed by Susanna Strickland.
The book caused a stir at the time, since it was the first narrative account published in England of a black woman’s life. It was enormously influential in changing public opinion at the time on the issue of slavery.
Two libel cases arose out of the book: Pringle v Cadell, in which Pringle won 3 pounds in damages, and Wood v Pringle, which Pringle lost, being ordered to pay 25 pounds in damages. Mary Prince was called to testify as a witness at each trial.
In 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 was passed, to be effective August 1834. The law was intended to achieve a two-staged abolition of West Indian slavery by 1840, allowing the various British colonies time to transition their economies.
In Bermuda, however, which was not economically dependent on the institution of slavery, emancipation took place immediately on the law going into effect in 1834.
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