Slavery, Abolition, and Emancipation: Writings in the British Romantic Period

small coverThis facsimile edition brings together a corpus of work which reflects the major issues and theories concerning slavery and the status of the slave. The Romantic period witnessed the beginnings of the sustained British imperial expansion that was to dominate its history, bringing with it a sometimes anxious awareness of other cultures and societies. This was also the period when criticism of the slave trade was at its most intense, finally leading to the formal abolition of the trade within the British colonies in 1807 and the emancipation of the slaves in the British colonies in 1833. Most writers associated with the first generation of British Romanticism – William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Robert Southey, John Thelwall, and a host of other non-canonical writers – wrote against the slave trade and their writing inevitably engaged in representing the African ‘other’. Aravamudan is editor of Volume Six of the series: Fiction.



Charlotte Sussman (Duke University; Romantic Circles)

“Not so long ago, when I started researching the more ephemeral material surrounding the antislavery movement—pamphlets, uncanonized poems and novels, memoirs—much of what I found, if it existed at all outside the British Library, was stored in unsorted boxes, in small, often incompletely cataloged collections ….Now, thanks to Pickering & Chatto, and the editors of these volumes, much of that material will be easily accessible to a broad audience …. Surely, a new era of scholarship will now begin—what once was specialized knowledge may now become required reading. Indeed, the volumes seem almost to fulfill Hannah More’s vision, carrying out the aims of the abolitionists themselves to disseminate the knowledge of British slavery as widely as possible.”

John Marriott (University of East London; Reviews in History)

“[T]he eight volumes in this collection represent an ambitious and enterprising project to make available key texts from one of the most significant episodes in British history. If, as I believe, they now make it virtually impossible both to ignore slavery in thinking about the emergence of Britain as a world power, and to deny that a consciousness of it entered into the very fabric of the nation’s culture, then their publication is vindicated. Indeed, our thanks are due to everyone involved, including the publishers whose reputation for such bold ventures will be enhanced.”


There is copious evidence here that debates around abolitionism were indeed central to British culture in the Romantic period, being taken up in a great variety of ways by poets, dramatists and novelists as well as statesmen and subversives..”

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