The Caribbean Heritage series is designed to publish new editions of historically significant works of fiction from our region. The first three volumes in the series comprise four Trinidadian novels published between 1838 and 1907. A substantial introduction and thorough annotations contextualize each of the original texts. The first volume in the series is E.L. Joseph's Warner Arundell: The Adventures of a Creole. The second volume includes two novels: Adolphus, A Tale, and Mrs Wilkins's The Slave Son. The third volume in the series presents Stephen Cobham's novel Rupert Gray, first published in 1907. Like the other novels in the series, this work also contains a strong political impetus, typical of West Indian novels, including support for the rights of all races. Together these four texts establish evidence of a much older and deeper local literary foundation than hitherto realized. This novel was written in Trinidad by a black or mixed-race teacher then law clerk, who also wrote poems and gave public lectures on literary topics.
The character of Rupert Gray was apparently based on that of Henry Sylvester Williams, a black lawyer educated in England, who was a major figure in the Pan-African Association. The novel traces the love affair of Rupert Gray, a Negro accountant, and Gwendoline Serle, the daughter of a white businessman in Trinidad. The couple's interracial courtship is marked by parental disapproval, society's scorn and the loyalty of friends. A series of tragic events culminates in a melodramatic courtroom scene.
Bridget Brereton is Professor of History, University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago. Rhonda Cobham is Professor of English and Black Studies, Amherst College. Mary Rimmer is Professor of English, University of New Brunswick, Canada. Lise Winer is Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, McGill University, Canada.