Letter: A slave's daughter
Saturday 11 September 1999
He quotes the first four lines from an epitaph - "Should simple village rhymes attract thine eye, Stranger, as thoughtfully thou passest by, Know that there lies beneath this humble stone a child of colour haply not thine own" - as an example of "changing attitudes".
I can only assume this means that he thinks the word "haply" means "happily". It does not. Haply means "by chance", something that "happens".
Much is known - if not about Anna Maria herself - about her father, Gustavus Vassa. The rhyme goes on - "Her father born of Afric's sun-burnt race, Torn from his native field, ah foul disgrace; Through various toils, at length to Britain came espoused, so Heaven ordained, an English dame, And follow'd Christ; their hope two infants dear. But one, a hapless orphan, slumbers here."
Gustavus Vassa, whose real name was Olaudah Equiano, was born in Nigeria in the 18th century and sold to slave traders. Transported to Barbados, he was given the name of Gustavus Vassa, after the king of Sweden.
Olaudah travelled to Canada, the Arctic and the Mediterranean and, as a free man, settled in England. He played a significant part in the abolitionist movement and wrote The interesting narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African. Anna Maria was the eldest daughter of his marriage with Susannah Cullen, from Soham, near Ely.
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Lucy Hawking: Stephen Hawking's daughter writes impassioned open letter to Katie Hopkins about rights of disabled people
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
- 4 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
The C-Word - review: Sheridan Smith shines in a warm, honest adaptation of Lisa Lynch's book about living with cancer
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
X-Men Apocalypse: First look at Jubilee and Jean Grey played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner
American Horror Story: Hotel Angela Bassett set to make 'lots of trouble' with Lady Gaga in season 5
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 4 - review: Sansa is in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils