In the introduction, editor Gretchen Gerzina describes the origins of the book project having sprung from a Radio 4 series she had presented called ‘Britain’s Black Past’ in which she travelled around the country interviewing experts about black people who had lived or worked there in the eighteenth or early nineteenth century. The book brings together many of these experts as well as others working to uncover similar histories. Gerzina acknowledges the important work that came before in this field by academics including Edward Scobie, Folarin Shyllon, and Peter Fryer. Their work, as well as Gerzina’s earlier book ‘Black England: Life Before Emancipation’ is added to and expanded by the new discoveries and interpretations of the contributors to the current book which includes academics, independent scholars, an actor/playwright, a lawyer, and a museum curator. Gerzina offers a brief summary of each chapter and explains that the book targets a wide audience including descendants of black ancestors, recent black arrivals to the country and anyone unaware of the long presence and varied experience of blacks in Britain.
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