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Remarkable Life of James Albert, African Prince

James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw

Book Overview: 

Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, also known as James Albert, (born ca. 1705 - 1775) was a freed slave and autobiographer. His autobiography is considered the first published by an African in Britain. Gronniosaw's autobiography was produced in Kidderminster in the late 1760s. Its full title is A Narrative of the Most remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African Prince, As related by himself. It was the first Slave narrative in the English language. Published in Bath in 1772, it gives a vivid account of Gronniosaw's life, from his capture in Africa through slavery to a life of poverty in Colchester and Kidderminster. It is devoid of the anti-slavery backlash ubiquitous in subsequent slave narratives.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .my parents were very unhappy to see me so dejected and melancholy.

About this time there came a merchant from the Gold Coast (the third city in Guinea) he traded with the inhabitants of our country in ivory &c. he took great notice of my unhappy situation, and enquired into the cause; he expressed vast concern for me, and said, if my parents would part with me for a little while, and let him take me home with him, it would be of more service to me than any thing they could do for me.—He told me that if I would go with him I should see houses with wings to them walk upon the water, and should also see the white folks; and that he had many sons of my age, which should be my companions; and he added to all this that he would bring me safe back again soon.—I was highly pleased with the account of this strange place, and was very desirous of going.—I seemed sensible of a secret impulse upon my mind which I could not resist that seemed to tell me . . . Read More

Community Reviews

More a narrative of how he came to be Christian than of his slavery. Historically interesting nonetheless.

Indeed a remarkable story, and interesting from so many aspects. Short, easily readable, and a significant contribution to our understanding of this particular aspect of history.
What I found most remarkable is the difference between the three locations - Africa, North America, and England. In the fi

I wonder if this early example of "God used slavery for evangelism of Africa" was where that began? egan? Or if this just a reflects the pervasiveness of the idea?
The preface was quite awful - Calvinist determinism. As for the book, I wish it were possible to know much the author is speaking for the

I read this with absolutely no knowledge that it was the first text published by a black person in Britain. It was mentioned in ‘Black & British’ by David Olusoga, so — noticing it was incredibly short — I decided to give it a read, as an aside.

It’s incredibly unspecific about the details of what it

‪This was my fourth reading of Slave Narratives, after Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs and Sojourner Truth. Presumingly this is the first example of slave autobiography and one of the very few ones where we the narrator is actually born in Africa and then taken to the New World. Ukawsaw is the gr