This collection fills a gap in the provision of sourcebooks for the history and sociology of slavery. It highlights variations in representations of West Indian slavery by drawing on a wide range of testimonies, especially those of the enslaved themselves. It thus differs in important respects from recent collections such as "Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation"; "Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems about Slavery, 1660-1810"; and "The Poetry of Slavery: An Anglo-American Anthology 1764-1865".First, the focus is on representations based principally on first-hand experience or observation of slavery in the then British West Indies, thus enabling valid comparisons to be made. Second, in order to recover the "voices" of the enslaved, it draws on sources untapped in most collections, such as transcriptions of slave songs, funeral orations, conversations and legal reports, as well as better-known slave narratives. The work is divided into five sections: Texts, 1657-1807; From Abolition to Emancipation, 1808-1834; Resistance and Rebellion; On the Haitian Revolution; and Songs of the Enslaved and Impersonations.
The collection includes extracts from Richard Ligon, Hans Sloane, Joseph Addison, Edward Long, Loaudah Equiano, Matthew Gregory Lewis, Thomas Atwood, and representative poetry and slave songs.
Karina Williamson is an Honorary Fellow of Edinburgh University and Supernumerary Fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford. She has taught at the universities of Oxford, Edinburgh, Uppsala and New Mexico. She was principal editor of The Poetical Works of Christopher Smart; editor of Marly; or A Planter's Life in Jamaica; and she has published numerous articles on English, Scottish and Caribbean subjects. Recent publications on Caribbean topics are ""West Indian Georgic"" in Essays in Criticism and ""Reinventing Jamaican History: Roger Mais and George William Gordon"" in Beyond the Blood, the Beach and the Banana: New Perspectives in Caribbean Studies, edited by Sandra Courtman.