Books about Black British History

A reading list of books related to the ongoing Black presence in Britain, Slavery, colonialism and Black settlement in the U.K . The list is by no means exhaustive!

Books about Black British History

  • Staying Power-The History of Black people in Britain by Peter Fryer
    (Pluto Press 1984)
  • Black England-Life before Emancipation by Gretchen Gerzina
    (John Murray,1995)
  • Black Settlers in Britain 1555-1958 by Nigel File and Chris Power
    (Heinemann,1981; reprinted 1995)
  • Black Edwardians-Black people in Britain 1901-1914 by Jeffrey Green
    (Frank Cass 1998)
  • Wonderful adventures of Mary Seacole in Many Lands by Mary Seacole
    (1857; reprinted by Falling Wall Press, edited by Ziggy Alexander and Audrey Dewjee,1984).
  • Black Londoners 1880-1990by Susan Okokon
    (Sutton Publishing Limited, 1998)
  • The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave
    (1831; reprinted by the University of Michigan Press, edited by Moira Ferguson,1993).
  • The first Black footballer-Arthur Wharton 1865-1930 An Absence of Memory by Phil Vasili
    (Frank Cass,1998, reprinted 1999)
  • Colouring over the white Line- The History of Black footballers in Britain by Phil Vasili
    (Mainstream Publishing,2000)
  • Breaking Stereotypes-Perspectives of Selected Black and Asian Leaders Edited by Clinton A.Valley, EdD.
    (Minerva Press, 2000)
  • West Indian Women at War-British Racism in World War II by Ben Bousquet and Colin Douglas
    (Lawrence and Wishhart, 1991)
  • Roots of the Future-Ethnic Diversity in the making of Britain
    By Commission for Racial Equality, 1997
  • England Affric-An Ethnological Survey by Ahmed Ali and Ibrahim Ali
    (Punite Books, 1995) ISBN 0 9518924 4 4
  • A History of the Black Presence in London (Greater London Council, 1986)
    ISBN 0 7168 1679 2
  • Black and white- the Negro and English Society 1555-1945 By James Walvin
    (Allen Lane, 1973)

For a more exhaustive list of useful Books on Black History, you can download a copy of the Black & Asian Resources available at the British Library.

5 thoughts on “Books about Black British History

  • 13th September 2013 at 6:16 pm

    This is a list compiled by Kathleen Chater:

    City of Westminster Archives, Sources for Black and Asian History at the City of Westminster Archives Centre (2005) and other publications about the Black people in their archives.
    Gronniosaw, J., A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukasaw Gronniosaw, an African Prince as related by Himself (Leeds, 1814) on

    Hammon, B., Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings and Surprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man, – Servant to General Winslow of Marshfield, in New-England ; Who returned to Boston, after having been absent almost Thirteen Years, etc. (Boston, MA, 1760) on
    Jea, J., The Life, History, and Unparalleled Sufferings of John Jea, the African Preacher, Compiled and Written by Himself (Portsea, c. 1811) on .
    King, B., Memoirs of Boston King, a Black Preacher (1798) on
    Mahomet, D. The Travels of Dean Mahomet (1794), ed. Fisher, M.H. (Berkeley, CA., 1997).
    Marrant, J. The Narrative of John Marrant (1785) on
    Mountain, J., Sketches in the Life of Joseph Mountain compiled by David Daggett (New Haven, CN, 1790) on
    Prince, M., The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave (1831), ed. Ferguson, M., (revised edn, 1996).

    Sancho, I., Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African (1782) ed. Carretta, V., (1998).

    Wedderburn, R., The Horrors of Slavery and other writings by Robert Wedderburn, ed. McCalman, I. (Edinburgh, 1991).
    Adams, G., ‘Dido Elizabeth Belle: A Black Girl at Kenwood’, Camden History Review 12 (1984), pp. 10-13.
    Adolph, A., ‘The Trial of John Ystumylln’ in The Family and Local History Handbook 10 (2006), pp. 140-3.
    Alexander, M., Omai, ‘Noble Savage’ (1977).
    Anim-Adoo, J., Longest Journey: the History of Black Lewisham (1995).
    Anim-Adoo, J., Sugar, Spices and Human Cargo: an Early Black History of Greenwich (1996).
    Banton, M., The Coloured Quarter (1955).
    Birmingham Central Library, Sources for the Study of Black People in Birmingham (Birmingham, 2001).
    Birmingham Future Group, Making Connections (Birmingham, nd).
    Bolster, W.J., Black Jacks (Cambridge, MA, 1997).
    Boser, R., ‘The creation of a legend’, History Today 52 (10) October 2002, pp. 37-8.
    Bourne, S., Speak of Me As I Am: the Black Presence in Southwark since 1600 (2005).
    Bowden-Dan, J., ‘Mr Guy’s Hospital and the Caribbean’: History Today 56 (6) June 2006, pp. 50-6.
    Bowen, H., ‘400 Years of the East India Company’, History Today 50 (7) July 2000, pp. 47-53.
    Braidwood, S.J., Black Poor and White Philanthropists (Liverpool, 1994).
    Braidwood, S.J., ‘Initiatives and Organisation of the Black Poor 1786-1787’, Slavery and Abolition (1982), pp. 211-227.
    Bygott, D., Black and British (Oxford, 1992).
    Carretta, V., Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man (Athens, GA, 2005)
    Carretta, V., ‘Friends of Freedom: three African-British Men of Letters in Eighteenth-Century Westminster’ in Westminster History Review 3 (1999), pp. 1-10.
    Chater, K., ‘Black Ancestry’:Ancestors (1) 4 October/November 2001, pp. 19-23.
    Chater, K., ‘Hidden from History: Black People in Parish Records’: Genealogists’ Magazine (26) 10 June 2000, pp. 381-4.
    Chater, K., ‘Where there’s a Will’, History Today, Vol. 50 (4) April 2000, pp. 26-7.
    Collicott, S., Connections: Haringey Local-National-World Links (1986).
    Costello, R., Black Liverpool: the early history of Britain’s oldest Black community 1730-1918 (Liverpool, 2000).
    Dabydeen, D., ‘Hogarth – the Savage and the Civilised’: History Today 31 (9) September 1981, pp. 48-51.
    Dabydeen, D., Hogarth’s Blacks: Images of Blacks in Eighteenth Century English Art (Kingston-upon-Thames, 1985).
    Edwards, P., ‘Black Personalities in Georgian Britain’, History Today 31 (9) September 198, pp. 39-43.
    Elder, M., Lancaster and the Slave Trade (Lancaster, nd).
    Ellis, J.D., ‘Black Soldiers in British Army Regiments During the Early Nineteenth Century’: AAHGS News, March/April 2001, pp 12-15.
    Ellis, J.D., ‘Drummers for the Devil? The Black Soldiers of the 29th (Worcestershire) Regiment of Foot, 1759-1843’: Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research 80, 2002, pp. 186-202.
    Evans, J.A.H., ‘Nathaniel Wells of Piercefield and St Kitts: from slave to sheriff’: Monmouthshire Antiquary, (no date on off-print), pp. 91-106.
    File, N. & Power, C., Black Settlers in Britain 1555-1958 (1981).
    Fraser, P.D., ‘The contributions of Black people to London: some historical reflections’, paper presented to the Conference on the History of Black People in London, London, 27-29 November 1984.

    Fraser, P.D., Before Windrush: the Early Black Presence in Hammersmith and Fulham (2000).

    Fryer, P., Staying Power: the History of Black People in Britain (1984).
    Gerzina, G., Black England (1995).
    Gerzina, G., Black London (1995).
    Green, J., ‘Before the Windrush’, History Today 50 (10) October 2000, pp. 29-35.
    Habib, I., Black Lives in the British Archives, 1500-1677: Imprints of the Invisible (Aldershot, 2008)
    GLC Ethnic Minorities Unit, A History of the Black Presence in London (1986).
    Jagdish, G. & Duffield, I. (eds.), Essays on the History of Blacks in Britain: from Roman Times to the mid-twentieth century (Avebury, 1992).
    Jones, P. & Youseph, R., The Black Population of Bristol in the Eighteenth Century (Bristol, 1994).
    Killingray, D. ‘All Conditions of Life and Labour: the presence of Blacks people in Essex before 1950’: Essex Archaeology and History 35 (2004), pp. 114-122.
    Killingray, D. & Edwards, J., Black Voices: the shaping of our Christian experience (Nottingham, 2007)
    King, R., Sandhu, S., Walvin, J. & Girdham, J., Ignatius Sancho an African Man of Letters (1997).
    Little, K., Negroes in Britain (London 1948).

    Locke, G., Caribbeans in Wandsworth (1998).
    Lorimer, D., Colour, Class and the Victorians (1978).

    Lotz, R. & Pegg, D. (eds.), Under the Imperial Carpet: Essays in Black History 1780-1950 (Crawley, 1986).

    McGrady, R., Music and Musicians in Early Nineteenth Century Cornwall: the world of Joseph Emidy – slave, violinist and composer (Exeter, 1991).
    MacKeith, L., Local Black History: a beginning in Devon (2003).
    Martin, S.I., Britain’s Slave Trade (1999).
    Merriman, N., The Peopling of London (1993).
    Minney, S., ‘The Search for Dido’: History Today 55, 10. October 2005,
    pp. 2-3.
    Myers, N., Reconstructing the Black Past: Blacks in Britain 1780-1830 (1996).
    Pearl, S., ‘Britain’s Black African Ancestors’: Family Tree (11), October 1995, pp. 11-12.
    Ramdin. R., Reimaging Britain: 500 Years of Black and Asian History (1999).
    Schama, S., Rough Crossings (2005).
    Scobie, E., Black Britannia (Chicago, IL,1972).
    Sherwood, M., ‘Blacks in the Gordon Riots’, History Today 47 (12) December 1998, pp. 24-28.
    Shyllon, F.O., Black People in Britain 1555-1833 (Oxford, 1977).
    Shyllon, F.O., Black Slaves in Britain (Oxford, 1974).
    Sparks, R.J., The Two Princes of Calabar (Harvard University Press, 2004).

    Spence, C., ‘Seeing Some Black in the Union Jack’, History Today 52 (10) October 2002, pp. 30-6.

    Stead, D., ‘Slaves to History’, BBC History (October 2001), pp. 38-41.

    Tower Hamlets African Caribbean Mental Health Organisation, Power Writers: Discovering and Celebrating Five African Writers who came to London in the Eighteenth Century (2003).
    Turley, D., Slavery (Oxford, 2000).
    Vigne, R. and Littleton, C. (eds), From Strangers to Citizens: The Integration of Immigrant Communities in Britain, Ireland and Colonial America, 1550-1750 (2001).
    Visram. R., Ayahs, Lascars and Princes (1986).
    Visram, R., Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (2002).
    Walvin, J., An African’s Life: the Life and Times of Olaudah Equiano (2000).
    Walvin, J., Black and White: the Negro and English Society 1555-1945 (1973).
    Walvin, J., The Black Presence: a documentary history of the Negro in England 1555-1860 (NY, 1971).
    Welch, Dr P.L.V., ‘The Urban Context of Slave Life: Views from Bridgetown, Barbados in the 18th and 19th Centuries’ on
    Welch, Dr P.L.V., ‘Madams and Mariners: Expressions of self-confidence among free coloured women in Barbados 1750-1834’ on

    Williams, E., Capitalism and Slavery, (1964).
    Wise, S.E., Though the Heavens May Fall: the landmark trial that led to the end of human slavery (NY, 2005).

  • 12th March 2015 at 3:03 pm

    It would be more useful
    if you separated the list into categories
    african descendant writers
    european descendant writers
    asian descendant writers

  • 12th October 2015 at 9:53 am

    Gwiz, much appreciated. Also compiling a list this side as, for all this talk about black history month, it still remains difficult to even access texts where one can see themselves.
    p.s. Remi Kapo, Christopher Mullard, Aaron Haynes???

  • 29th January 2018 at 10:24 am

    Can I just add my own book to this list? Untold Histories: Black People in England and Wales during the period of the British slave trade c. 1660-1807 (Manchester University Press, 2007) is my doctoral thesis, based on some 3,000 references collected from primary sources. My database now numbers about 5,000.

    Kathleen Chater


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