The story of a British slave will be told when Sold comes to The Phoenix Theatre and Arts Centre in Bordon on July 2 at 7.30pm.
Mary Prince was born into enslavement on the British-owned island of Bermuda in around 1788, the daughter of a house slave, Sue, and a sawyer.
Through Mary’s narrative the audience will be given rare insights into her life as an enslaved person. They will learn of moments of love and conflict, and some of the intricacies of chattel slavery that are seldom heard.
When it was published the harsh realities, the brutality of enslavement, and the treatment and dehumanisation of people shocked readers, as did a woman speaking of flogging and of work that was not just back-breaking but life-taking.
She gave her words and thoughts of how it felt to be enslaved, owned, bought and sold, giving the voice of the chattel that was often silent, silenced, ignored or spoken for.
Mary was illiterate but after moving to London with her master and his family in 1828 she escaped and told her story to Thomas Pringle, secretary of the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery Throughout the British Dominions.
Published as The History of Mary Prince in 1831, it was the first account of a black slave woman’s life published in the UK and it galvanised Britain’s anti-slavery movement.
Those who read her book can now picture slaves as people with feelings, hopes and dreams.
It also highlights Britain’s role in enslavement – many think of slavery as an American experience through stories of the deep south, and forget Britain played a major role. Mary’s words help to remind people.