Abolitionist and poet Thomas Pringle arrived in South Africa in 1820, and spent six years living there, founding a Scottish settlement and working as a librarian and journal editor. Shocked by the treatment of slaves and indigenous peoples in South Africa, Pringle wrote a number of poems and articles opposing colonial slavery. He became the secretary of the British Anti-Slavery Society on his return to the UK in 1827. In his African Sketches, Pringle describes the cruel treatment of slaves that he witnessed, arguing that reports of a "mild" form of slavery in South Africa were based on fallacy. However, he stresses the system's degrading influence on slaveowners as well as slaves, and tries to give a balanced picture of the Boers, arguing that they were no different to any other European colonisers in the Americas or Australia.
A posthumous re-edition of Pringle's travel writings was published in 1835, entitled: Narrative of a residence in South Africa. It was accompanied by a short biography of Pringle written by fellow poet and abolitionist Josiah Conder.
See also articles by Thomas Pringle: 'The State of Slavery at the Cape', New Monthly Magazine (October 1826) and 'Slavery at the Cape of Good Hope', Anti-Slavery Reporter, (January 1827, XX, vol I, p.289).