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Previously Recommended

Here are (most of) those excellent books which in previous months I recommended. I've removed a few that are out of print or no longer current. In general, the more recently I recommended the title, the closer it is to the top of the page.

  Slavery and the Cultures of Abolition Brycchan Carey and Peter J. Kitson, eds
Slavery and the Cultures of Abolition: Essays Marking the Bicentennial of the British Abolition Act of 1807

On 25 March 1807, the bill for the abolition of the Slave Trade within the British colonies was passed in the House of Commons. This new collection of essays marks this crucial but conflicted historical moment and its troublesome legacies. Focusing on the literary and cultural manifestations of slavery, abolition, and emancipation from the eighteenth century to the present day, the contributors include Deirdre Coleman, Gerald Maclean, Felcity Nussbaum, Diana Paton, and Marcus Wood.
  Maurice Jackson, Let This Voice Be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism (University of Pennsylvania, 2010)
This is a magnificent biography of one of the world's great unsung heroes. Anthony Benezet was a leading antislavery campaigner in the Society of Friends. In later life, he wrote some of the most important antislavery texts of the time, which helped form the views of John Wesley, Granville Sharp, and Thomas Clarkson. Jackson's biography brings Benezet back to life: scholarly throughout, it is also eminently readable. This is the first biography of Benezet for almost a century, and will no doubt remain the standard work for the century to come.

  Vincent Carretta, Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self Made Man (University of Georgia Press, 2005)
Vincent Carretta is the foremost expert on Olaudah Equiano, and in this book he has produced a definitive biography that will be read for many years to come. Carretta's account of Equiano's life is detailed and scholarly, yet remains readable and enjoyable throughout. While Carretta does show that there is some question over Equiano's origins, the substance of the book shows that Equiano's Interesting Narrative is very reliable indeed. This book is essential reading for everyone interested in eighteenth-century literature and culture.
  Mary Seacole, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands (1857), ed. Sara Salih (Penguin, 2005)
Mary Seacole, recently voted the greatest black Briton, was born in Jamaica in the days of slavery, set up as a hotelier in Panama during the wild days of the California gold rush, and established a hospital for British soldiers during the Crimean War. This new edition of her autobiography, The Wonderful Adventures, is edited by Sara Salih and includes extensive notes and maps and an important new introduction, all of which will be much appreciated by both students and general readers. Seacole's text remains as lively and readable as ever, and is highly recommended to all interested in this important black British woman.
  Brycchan Carey, Markman Ellis, and Sara Salih, Discourses of Slavery and Abolition: Britain and its Colonies, 1760-1838 (2004)
I admit I am one of the editors of this book, so perhaps I'm biased, but nevertheless this is an important collection of critical essays by established scholars in the field of eighteenth and nineteenth-century slavery and abolition. It includes essays on Olaudah Equiano, Ignatius Sancho, and Mary Prince, as well as chapters considering the role of slavery and abolition in novels, poetry, children's literature, sermons, and the paintings of Turner. If you can't afford it, please ask your library to order it!
  Sukhdev Sandhu, London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City (2003)
In this self-confessed 'love letter to London', Sukhdev Sandhu sets out 'to tell the story of the black and Asian people who have told stories about black and Asian London from the eighteenth century to the present day'. In so doing he produces that rarity of a book: a scholarly work that will also engage the general reader. Combining detailed historical analysis with insightful crtiticism, revealing illustrations, and a compendious knowledge of his subject, Sandhu has produced a work which will interest readers for many years to come.
  Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings (1789), ed. Vincent Carretta (2003)
This is the eagerly awaited second edition of Carretta's Penguin edition of Equiano's writing. It includes a new introduction that presents Carretta's case that Equiano was born in South Carolina. In addition, it is a fine scholarly edition with a wealth of notes and supporting information. By far the best edition of Equiano for the student or for the general reader.
  Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems About Slavery, 1660-1810, ed. James G. Basker (2002)
This is the book I was going to write, but James Basker beat me to it. I'm glad he did: this beautifully produced book is an important and timely collection that brings together many of the most moving, influential, significant, and interesting of the slavery poems of the 17th and 18th centuries. There are omissions, of course, but very few. This book is highly recommended, and will be essential reading for anyone studying the literature of slavery and abolition.
  The History of Mary Prince: a West Indian Slave (1831), ed. Sara Salih
Mary Prince was born a slave in Burmuda in the 1780s. She endured harsh conditions as a 'field slave' before being brought to England in 1828. In London, she ran away and made the acquaintance of Thomas Pringle, a member of the Anti-Slavery Society, who recorded her life story and had it published. Prince's former owners sued her for libel, but lost their case. Salih's edition combines the text with excellent scholarly notes and a thought-provoking new introduction.
  H.G. Wells The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds (double edition)
More than a century after it was written, H.G. Well's short story The Time Machine has again been made into a film. It's a classic tale, of course, combining a critique of the social conditions of late-Victorian London with a rip-roaring yarn about the Eloi and the Morlocks. (Inexplicably, the current film relocates the story to New York.) This edition is combined with another of Well's science-fiction classics: The War of the Worlds. Surely that's due for a Hollywood remake as well...
  Vincent Caretta, ed., Unchained Voices: An Anthology of Black Authors in the English-Speaking World of the Eighteenth Century
An extremely useful introduction to black writing from Britain and North America in the eighteenth century. There are generous selections from many writers including: Equiano, Sancho, Cugoano, Wheatley, Diallo, and Gronniosaw. These are supported with excellent introductions and footnotes. This book is by far the best way to get acquainted with these important writers from the age of slavery.
  Jeffrey Kacirk, Forgotten English (1999)
A fine and entertaining work of antiquarianism. Kacirk uses each word as an opportunity for a learned and often comical essay on a theme the word suggests. Hence his discussion of rotund monks under "farctate", sleep pathology under "night-hag" and Shakespearean enemas under "glister". Kacirk is a Californian, however, and many of the words he calls "forgotten" are still going strong here in England: "stalking-horse", "hobnail", "frippery" and "buggery", for example, although these are rarely found in the same sentence.

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* This page last updated 24 October 2012 * Top of Page | Homepage | Entrance to the Bookshop

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