The Litfest Atlantic Slave Trade Reading List

Prepared by Lancaster Black History Group

https://www.facebook.com/Blackhistorylancaster/

Following the two very strongly supported events at Litfest 2022 – ‘Lancaster and the Atlantic Slave Trade’ and ‘Legacies of the Slave Trade’, both partnerships with Lancaster University and Lancaster Black History Group – we are proud to publish this list of suggested reading which draws on the skills, knowledge and experience of those partners. Special thanks go to Imogen Tyler and Nick Radburn. 

Wherever possible the current, paperback edition is listed. If there are books you think we have overlooked and should include here, please let us know by writing to info@litfest.org. We will be glad to hear from you. Please also note that many of these and other titles on this topic can be borrowed from Lancaster University Library’s Glocal Collection, as part of its new free community lending service

You can also download the Lancaster Slave Trade Trail leaflet from the Visit Lancaster site here.

Book cover: Akala, Natives

General books on Black British history

  • Akala: Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire (Two Roads, 2018)
  • Kehinde Andrews and Lisa Palmer eds.: Blackness in Britain (Routledge, 2016)
  • Beverley Bryan and Stella Dadzie: Heart of The Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain (Verso, 2018)
  • Miranda Kaufman: Black Tudors: The Untold Story (Oneworld Publications, 2017)
  • Peter Fryer: Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (Pluto Press, 1984)
  • Paul Gilroy: There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural History of Race and Nation (Routledge, 1987)
  • Gretchen H. Gerzina: Britain’s Black Past (Liverpool University, 2020)
  • Catherine Hall (ed.): Legacies of British Slave-Ownership: Colonial Slavery and the Formation of Victorian Britain (Liverpool University Press, 2016)
  • Stuart Hall with Bill Schwarz: Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands (Penguin, 2018)
  • Adam Hochschild: Bury the Chains: The British Struggle to abolish Slavery (Pan, 2006)
  • C.L.R James, 1989. The Black Jacobins (1st ed. 1938; Penguin, 2001).
  • David Olusoga: Black and British: a Forgotten History (Picador, 2016)
  • Olivette Otele: African Europeans: An Untold History (C. Hurst & Co, 2020)

Books on the Atlantic Slave Trade in general

  • Toby Green: A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution (Penguin, 2020)
  • Robert W. Harms: The Diligent: A Voyage through the Worlds of the Slave Trade (Basic Books, 2001)
  • Sowande Mustakeem: Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage (Univeristy of Illinois Press, 2016)
  • Gregory E. O’Malley: Final Passages: The Intercolonial Slave Trade of British America, 1619-1807 (University of North Caroline Press, 2014)
  • William Pettigrew: Freedom’s Debt: The Royal African Company and the Politics of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1672–1752 (University of North Caroline Press, 2013)
  • Marcus Rediker. The Slave Ship: A Human History (John Murray, 2008)
  • Stephanie Smallwood: Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora (Harvard University Press, 2008)
  • John Thornton: Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400–1800 (Cambridge University Press, 1992)
  • Hugh Thomas: The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440–1870 (1st ed., 1997; Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006)
  • James Walvin: A World Transformed Slavery in the Americas and the Origins of Global Power (Robinson, 2022)
  • James Walvin: The Trader, The Owner, The Slave: Parallel Lives in the Age of Slavery (Bunko, 2008)
  • James Walvin: Black Ivory: Slavery in the British Empire (1st ed. 1994; Wiley-Blackwell, 2001)
  • Eric Williams: Capitalism and Slavery Penguin (1st ed. 1944, Penguin 2022)

Books on Lancaster or the Northwest and the Slave Trade

  • Melinda Elder: The Slave Trade and the Economic Development of 18th-Century Lancaster (Keel University Press, 1992)
  • David Richardson, Suzanne Schwarz, Anthony Tibbles (eds): Liverpool and Transatlantic Slavery (Liverpool University Press, 2007)
  • Alan Rice: Creating Memorials, Building Identities: The Politics of Memory in the Black Atlantic (Liverpool University Press, 2010)
  • Schofield, M.: An Economic History of Lancaster 1680-1860 vol. 1 (Lancaster Historical Association, 1946)
  • Moody, Jessica: The Persistence of Memory: Remembering Slavery in Liverpool, ‘Slaving Capital of the World’ (Liverpool University Press, 2020)

Books on plantation slavery

  • Ira Berlin: Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (Harvard University Press, 1998)
  • Randy Browne: Surviving Slavery in the British Caribbean (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017)
  • Trevor Burnard: Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World (University of North Carolina Press, 2009)
  • Stella Dadzie: A Kick in the Belly: Women, Slavery & Resistance (Verso, 2020)
  • Richard S. Dunn: Sugar and Slaves (University of North Carolina Press, 1972)
  • Marisa Fuentes: Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016)
  • Jessica Marie Johnson: Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020)
  • Jennifer Morgan: Reckoning with Slavery: Gender, Kinship, and Capitalism in the Early Black Atlantic (Duke University Press, 2021)
  • Philip Morgan: Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry (University of North Carolina Press, 1998)
  • Matthew Parker: Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire and War (Windmill Books, 2011)

Contemporary accounts written by formerly enslaved people

  • Olaudah Equiano, ed. Vincent Carretta: The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavas Vassa, the African and Other Writings (Penguin, 2003)
  • Ignatius Sancho: The Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, the African (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
  • Mary Prince: The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave (Penguin, 2000)
  • Frederick Douglass: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (Oxford University Press, 2009)
  • Harriet Wilson: Our Nig: or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1st ed. Allison & Busby, 1984; Penguin 2009)

Family memoirs and histories of slavery

  • Richard Atkinson: Mr Atkinson’s Rum Contract: The Story of a Tangled Inheritance (4th Estate, 2020)
  • Thomas Norman DeWolf: Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy As the Largest Slave-trading Dynasty in U.S. History (Beacon Press, 2008)
  • Alex Renton: Blood Legacy: Reckoning with a Family’s Story of Slavery  (Canongate, 2021)
  • Andrea Stuart: Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire (Portobello, 2012)

Fiction about the Atlantic Slave Trade

  • Bruce Chatwin: The Viceroy of Ouidah (1st ed. 1980; Vintage, 1998)
  • Yaa Gyasi: Homegoing (Penguin, 2017)
  • Manu Herbstein: Ama: A Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade (Picador Africa, 2005)
  • George Lamming: Natives of My Person (1st ed. 1974; Allison & Busby, 1986
  • D. Smartt: Ship Shape (Peepal Tree Press, 2008) 
  • Rivers Solomon et al., The Deep (Hodder, 2019)
  • Barry Unsworth: Sacred Hunger (1st ed. 1992; Penguin, 1993)
  • Barry Unsworth: The Quality of Mercy (Windmill Books, 2012)