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Palgrave Macmillan

Telling West Indian Lives

Life Narrative and the Reform of Plantation Slavery Cultures 1804-1834

ISBN 9781137441027
Publication Date July 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series New Caribbean Studies

Telling West Indian Lives: Life Narrative and the Reform of Plantation Slavery Cultures 1804-1834 draws renewed historical and literary attention to lived cultures of life story and narration in the late plantation slavery period. Drawing on fresh archival research, it highlights the formative influence of oral genres on written and dictated texts, varied genres of life narrative, and the ways in which extant written narratives circulated as part of and shaped evangelical, philanthropic and antislavery reform projects.

Sue Thomas is Professor of English at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. She is the author of Imperialism, Reform and the Making of Englishness in Jane Eyre and The Worlding of Jean Rhys and the co-author of England through Colonial Eyes in Twentieth-Century Fiction, with Ann Blake and Leela Gandhi. She has published extensively on nineteenth- and twentieth-century women writers and postcolonial literatures.

1. Anne Hart Gilbert and John Gilbert: Creole Benevolence and Antislavery
2. William Dawes in Antigua
3. Methodist Life Narratives
4. Robert Wedderburn and the 'cause of humanity'
5. The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave, Related by Herself


"Telling West Indian Lives shines a bright light on the creolized literary cultures - oral and scribal - that generated surprisingly varied forms of spiritual life-writing in the final decades of West Indian slavery." - B.W. Higman, Professor of History, Australian National University and University of the West Indies, Jamaica
"Sue Thomas changes the landscape of Caribbean studies by taking seriously the West Indian sites of Evangelical lay philanthropy which challenged the institution of slavery. Based on extensive archival research and astute textual reading, Telling West Indian Lives helps us understand as never before the background to the life-writing of the abolition period. It is an extraordinarily impressive achievement." - Peter Hulme, Professor of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, University of Essex, UK
"This excellent book is informative, and rigorously researched. Telling West Indian Lives addresses an important gap in plantation historiography, namely, scholarly attention to the role of nineteenth century life narratives of enslaved peoples, and their meanings particularly in terms of Christian influences impacting upon the reform of plantation slavery cultures. Sue Thomas makes a serious contribution to scholarship that is cross-disciplinary including nineteenth century studies, transatlantic studies, literary studies, Caribbean studies, and History." - Joan Anim-Addo, Professor of Caribbean Literature and Culture, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
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