As a freeman Equiano returned to London and continued to work aboard ships throughout Europe and further afield. In 1773 Equiano took part in a voyage to the Arctic in a failed attempt to find a northern passage to India.
During the 1780’s Equiano became involved in the campaign for the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. In 1782 he brought the Zong massacre, in which 133 slaves were thrown overboard, to the attention of campaigner Granville Sharp. Equiano self-published his narrative to much acclaim in 1789 and spent several years touring the country to promote the book, including a visit to Birmingham in 1790. ‘The Interesting Narrative’, was a best seller, and went to nine editions in Equiano’s own lifetime.
In 1792 Equiano married Susanna Cullen in Cambridgeshire and they had two daughters. Susanna died in February 1796 and just over a year later on 31 March 1797 Equiano passed away in London, he was about 52. Ann Maria, the eldest daughter, died just months after Equiano; the younger daughter Joanna went on to inherit Equiano’s fortune of £950 (worth perhaps £100,000 today) and survived into adulthood.