Author: Moses Grandy


Narrative of the Life of Moses Grandy (1843)

In this autobiography, published in 1843, Moses Grandy recounts his life of enslavement and his journey to freedom. Because Grandy never learned to read or write, he related his narrative to George Thompson, a London antislavery activist, who transcribed it. Grandy was a waterman who worked on the Great Dismal Swamp’s canals, and he includes a description of the patterns of enslaved labor and marronage in the swamp. His narrative helped bring the swamp and its role in self-emancipation from slavery to the attention of abolitionists. Grandy wrote this narrative, in part, to raise funds to free his children who remained in slavery. Grandy describes the way the enslaved community came together to care for elder enslaved people who had been sent to live alone in the woods by their enslaver.