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Black England

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Audiobook Downloadable / ISBN-13: 9781399804929

Price: £21.99

ON SALE: 29th September 2022

Genre: Humanities / History

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A powerful history of the forgotten lives of black Georgian Britain.

Georgian England had a large and distinctive black community. Yet all of them, prosperous citizens or newly freed slaves, ran the risk of kidnap and sale to plantations. Their dramatic, often moving story is told in this audiobook.

The idea that Britain became a mixed-race country after 1945 is a common mistake. Even in Shakespeare’s England, black people were numerous enough for Queen Elizabeth to demand their expulsion. She was, perhaps, the first to fear that whites would lose their jobs, yet her order was ignored without ill effects.

By the eighteenth century, black people could be found in clubs and pubs, there were churches for black people, black-only balls and organisations for helping black people who were out of work or in trouble. Many of them were famous and respected: most notably Francis Barber, Doctor Johnson’s esteemed manservant and legatee; George Bridgetower, a concert violinist who knew Beethoven; Ignatius Sancho, a correspondent of Laurence Sterne; and Francis Williams a Cambridge scholar. But many more were ill-paid, ill-treated servants or beggars, some resorting to prostitution or theft. And alongside the free world there was slavery, from which many of these black Britons escaped. The triumphs and tortures of black England, the ambivalent relations between the races, sometimes tragic, sometimes heart-warming, are brought to life in this well-researched and wonderfully listenable account.

The black population of Georgian England had been completely ignored until this audiobook changed the conversation, clearing the way for a new kind of history based on the experiences of ordinary people rather than the ruling classes.

(P) 2022 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

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Reviews

In the 1990s, an assistant in a London bookshop informed the African American historian Gretchen Gerzina that there "were no black people in England before 1945". Gerzina effectively disproved that assertion by going on to write the classic book on black people in Georgian London, Black England
DAVID OLUSOGA, Guardian
<br>Wonderfully vivid, multifaceted and engrossing . . . this book brings history alive
BERNARDINE EVARISTO
<br>Black England taught me more history than I ever learned at school. This book helped me to understand the history that my generation are making now. To say that it is groundbreaking is stating the obvious. Black England is part of our canon. With books like this to guide us, we are unstoppable. Gretchen Gerzina tells it as it was, so we know how it is. Black England is a book that will be relevant for ever
BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH
<br>A classic that deserves to be read . . . indeed, needs to be read, Black England is deeply researched, lucidly written and utterly fascinating. If you ever thought Black British history began with Windrush, read this book - this is a story we should all know
GREG JENNER
<br>Gerzina brings the world of the Black Georgians to intriguing life, introducing us to the era's most fascinating individuals while placing them in the wider story of the struggle against enslavement. It is a treat to have a pioneer of the field bring together all the latest scholarship to tell this important part of British history for a wide audience
MIRANDA KAUFMANN, author of Black Tudors
<br>The admirable clarity of Black England should win it many admirers. Gerzina's book should take its rightful place alongside the work of her predecessors
CARYL PHILLIPS
Black England is well-researched, with interesting quotes throughout and has a number of 'I didn't know that!' moments as Gerzina throws up surprising snippets of information, such as the existence of an entirely black brothel in London catering for the nobility . . . charting the progress of the anti-slavery moment in England, Gerzina highlights the mixed and often murky motives held by white abolitionists who are often less altruistic than might be expected. This is echoed in Zadie Smith's passionate and insightful foreword
Morning Star