“Black Victorians” by Kesha N. Abraham and John Woolf is fantastic and I can’t recommend it highly enough if you are looking for insight into the Victorian age written in an easy-to-read and compelling manner!

It is broken into five parts each with a different focus. Using individuals’ stories to change perceptions of this period of time, the writers connect one with real people building empathy and understanding. Considering the immense challenges faced by each, one can’t help but admire all of the people recognised but though this highlights a few, my takeaway is there are far far more who are unnamed and need to be remembered when we use the term “Victorian”.

Being a staunch supporter of female rights, the chapters focusing on women are my favourite! Pushing back against racism and sexism in an era when neither were seen as they are today is impressive and inspiring.

If you are looking for a challenging, enlightening, and enjoyable read, this is one for you! It’s a five out of five on the enJOYment scale!

From the back cover:

A landmark work of revisionist history exploring and celebrating the lives of Black Victorians.

Our vision of Victorian Britain tends to the monolithic – white, imperialist, prurient, patrician. However, though until very recently overlooked in our textbooks, there was another, more diverse Britain, populated by people of colour marking achievements both ordinary and extraordinary.

In this deeply researched, dynamic and revelatory history, Woolf and Abraham reach back into the archives to recentre our attention on marginalised Black Victorians, from leading medic George Rice to protestor William Cuffay to attention-grabbing abolitionists Henry ‘Box’ Brown and Sarah Parker Remond; from pre-Raphaelite muse Fanny Eaton to composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor. 

Black Victorians shows how Black lives were visible, present and influential – not temporary presences but established and rooted; and how paradox and ambivalence characterised the Victorian view of race.

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