Black writing in Britain, 1770-1830

Hanley, Ryan

February 2015

Thesis or dissertation

© 2015 Ryan Hanley. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This thesis examines the lives and works of six black authors whose writings were published in Britain between 1770 and 1830: Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, Ignatius Sancho, Ottobah Cugoano, Boston King, John Jea and Robert Wedderburn. It challenges the existing paradigm of understanding these authors exclusively or primarily through the lenses of slavery and ethnicity. It demonstrates that these authors did not all share a single homogenous view of how, or even if, the slave trade and slavery should be abolished, and that they did not limit their attentions to the progress of abolitionism. Rather, they embraced a broad range of interests, from evangelical and missionary concerns to domestic political reform. These six black authors were each influenced by social, confessional and political networks, characterised by correspondence, friendship and patronage. Gronniosaw was part of an evangelical Calvinist network; Sancho corresponded with a network of libertine young men; Cugoano was a leading figure in London’s black radical networks; King was deeply influenced by Thomas Coke’s Methodist network based at Kingswood School, near Bristol; Jea’s discourse was suited to local Wesleyan networks in Lancashire and Hampshire; and Wedderburn was a key member of London’s ultraradical underworld. An investigation into the individuals and groups comprising each of these networks of influence serves not only to establish the authors' output within a broader historical context, but also enables a fresh perspective from which to launch new critical readings. This ultimately facilitates a revaluation of each author's individual contribution to the specific debates and discourses in which they participated, as well as their collective and several contributions to the British antislavery movements of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

WISE, The University of Hull
Hamilton, Douglas J.; Evans, Nicholas J. (Nicholas John)
Sponsor (Organisation)
University of Hull; Institute for Historical Research (Human Sciences Research Council); College of William & Mary; British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies; University of London. Queen Mary
Qualification level
Qualification name
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