After purchasing his freedom from slavery, Olaudah Equiano became a well-known abolitionist in England. He commissioned this image for his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano . . . (1789), published to "excite . . . a sense of compassion of the miseries which the Slave-Trade has entailed." This book, together with Phillis Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects . . . , form the genesis of the black literary tradition. Equiano stares directly at the viewer in this portrait, demanding that we consider him a social equal, a provocative notion in the eighteenth century.