Helena Woodard: African-British writings in the eighteenth century

First published: 1999

Book Review

African-British Writings in the Eighteenth Century.
The Politics of Race and Reason.
Author: Helena Woodard
Published by Greenwood Press 1999
ISBN: 0-313-30680-X

Helena Woodard is Associate Professor of English at the University of Austin, Texas.

In this review of Professor Woodard's book I begin by reporting what she writes about. But fairly swiftly I begin to realise that this book does not deliver what most of my readers will want. Most of my readers will want to know about Equiano, Ottobah Cugoano, Ignatius Sancho and Mary Prince. They'll want to know about Africans writing in Britain the 18th Century. And largely, from the perspective of people who want that information, they will not find it here. That doesn't mean that Woodard doesn't talk about the Africans, she does. But she defines them primarily among very many non-African writers in the century. And she interprets what they say through the eyes of Europeans, rather than concentrating on what the Africans actually mean and say. Dedicated English Literature students will find Woodard's book interesting. But people who specifically want to find out about black British writers will probably will feel disappointed by it.

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