John Thelwall's The Daughter of Adoption: A Tale of Modern Times is a witty and wide-ranging work in which the picaresque and sentimental novel of the eighteenth century confronts the revolutionary ideas and forms of the Romantic period. Thelwall puts his two main characters, the conflicted English gentleman Henry Montfort and the Creole Seraphina Parkinson, through their paces in a slave rebellion in Haiti, where they barely escape with their lives, and in London society, where Henry almost loses his soul. Combining political analysis with melodrama and flat-out farce, Daughter expands the scope of the abolitionist novel, pushing the argument beyond the slave trade to challenge empire and racial superiority. Historical materials on Thelwall's life, the abolitionist movement, and eighteenth-century educational theories provide a detailed context for the novel.
Michael Scrivener is Professor of English at Wayne State University, USA.Yasmin Solomonescu is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, USA.Judith Thompson is Associate Professor of English at Dalhousie University, Canada.