Author Biography

Leah M. Thomas is Assistant Professor of English in the Department of Languages and Literature at Virginia State University. Her research explores the geographic imagination in cartography and narrative of the long eighteenth century.


The History of Mary Prince, a West-Indian Slave, Related by Herself (1831) is the first published woman’s slave narrative. In her History, Prince describes horrendous physical violence to which she and other enslaved peoples of African descent are subjected as well as the corresponding psychological and sexual abuse they endure. While Prince “speaks” the sexual abuse to some extent, how she knows what she knows goes unspoken. She expresses her knowledge of reading and writing and, at times, of the law, but she does not explain how she obtains this knowledge or knows what she knows. Her optimism to travel from one geographic location to another may indicate some knowledge that her circumstances may improve; yet when she arrives in a new location, her conditions worsen with the exceptions of Antigua and England. From the beginning of her History, Prince possesses a strong desire to escape the conditions of chattel slavery, especially shown as she travels from Brackish Pond to Spanish Point in Bermuda, from Bermuda to Turks Island, and later from Turks Island to Bermuda, then to Antigua, and finally to England. As she relates her travel, Prince speaks her knowledge networks that lay hidden within her narrative through her “silences.”


knowledge networks, social networks, slavery, Caribbean, abolition, geographic mobility