Black London cover Black London: Life before Emancipation

Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina

Rutgers University Press, 1995
Copyright © 1995 Copyright Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina

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About the Book


Gerzina has written a fascinating account of London blacks, focusing on the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Because of a paucity of sources from blacks themselves, Gerzina had to rely primarily on glimpses through white eyes, especially those of antislavery advocate Granville Sharp. Gerzina is quite adept at culling evidence of a rich, complex black life, with significant interaction (and intermarriage) with the white community. Although subjected to much discrimination, London blacks never suffered as much as their American counterparts. The author rightly concludes that blacks have played an important role in the life of London for much of its history.


About the Author

Gretchen Gerzina

Gretchen H. Gerzina is the Paul Murray Kendall Chair in Biography and Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She was the Kathe Tappe Vernon Professor of Biography at Dartmouth College from 2005 to 2015. She joined the Dartmouth English Department after fourteen years as a professor at Vassar College, and two years as a professor and director of Africana Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University. She was the first woman ever to chair Dartmouth's English department, and the first black woman ever to chair an Ivy League English department.

She is the author of the historically-grounded biographical studies Carrington: A Life and Frances Hodgson Burnett: The unexpected life of the author of The Secret Garden, and the editor of Black Victorians/Black Victoriana, the Norton Critical Edition of The Secret Garden, and The Annotated Secret Garden. Her most recent book, Mr. and Mrs. Prince: How an Extraordinary 18th-Century Family Moved out of Slavery and into Legend, recounts the story of two former slaves who were among the first settlers of Vermont; Lucy Prince is the first known African American poet. Seven years in the researching, it is the most detailed study ever done of an early African American family and has been nominated for several awards.

From 1997 to 2012 she hosted the nationally-syndicated public radio program "The Book Show," which interviewed authors on their recent books. Guests included Toni Morrison, Julian Barnes, Kazuo Ishiguro, A.S. Byatt, Salman Rushdie, Tracy Chevalier, Maya Angelou, and Philip Roth. She is the recipient of two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and has been the Fulbright Distinguished Scholar to Great Britain. She is an honorary visiting professor at the University of Exeter in Devon, England, and in 2009-10 she was the George Eastman Visiting Professor at Oxford. She has appeared on BBC radio and television as well as National Public Radio.


About the Electronic Publication

This electronic publication of Black London was made possible with the permission of the author. The Rutgers University Press created EPUB and PDF files from a scanned copy of the book.


Rights Information

Published with permission of Gretchen Gerzina .

Dartmouth College Library assigns a Creative Commons BY-NC license to the digital work and associated web site.

Creative Commons License


Bibliographic Information

Published by Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, N.J., 1995. ISBN 9780813522593, 256 pages.
Print edition: DA676.9.B55 G47 1995


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