Tim Watson challenges the idea that Caribbean colonies in the nineteenth century were outposts of empire easily relegated to the realm of tropical romance while the real story took place in Britain. Analyzing pamphlets, newspapers, estate papers, trial transcripts, and missionary correspondence, this book recovers stories of ordinary West Indians, enslaved and free, as they made places for themselves in the empire and the Atlantic world, from the time of sugar tycoon Simon Taylor to the perspective of Samuel Ringgold Ward, African American eyewitness to the 1865 Morant Bay rebellion. With readings of Maria Edgeworth and George Eliot, the book argues that the Caribbean occupied a prominent place in the development of English realism. However, Watson shows too that we must sometimes turn to imperial romance - which made protagonists of rebels and religious leaders, as in Hamel, the Obeah Man (1827) - to understand the realities of Caribbean cultural life.
Tim Watson is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Miami.
Cambridge University Press
Date of Publication
Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature & Culture