In the 1780s in Britain, two very different places -- Sierra Leone
and Botany Bay -- were mooted as possible sites for a penal colony.
In the end, Botany Bay won the day and Sierra Leone became instead
an experimental self-governing colony for ex-Slaves, the distant
flagship of a vigorous popular movement at home against the slave
trade. This fully annotated edition of Anna Maria Falconbridge's
Two Voyages to Sierra Leone (1794) and Mary Ann Parker's A Voyage
Round the World (1795) brings together in one volume the first
published accounts by women of these new sites of British
colonization. Laying the texts alongside one another brings into
illuminating conjunction Britain's concurrent, late
eighteenth-century systems of transportation and resettlement,
convictism and slavery. Their republication in modern format will
also help to focus current debates about the constitution of
national, racial and sexual identities and the relationship between
imperial and authorial power.
Two Voyages to Sierra Leone is a lively and controversial text.
Written as a series of letters to an intimate female friend, it is
principally concerned to expose the bungling, hypocrisy and greed
of an African imperial venture run by some of Britain's leading
abolitionists. It is an important text for exploring some of the
complexities surrounding women's intervention in the pro and
anti-slavery debates of the age. Recently married to a slave-trade
surgeon turned passionate abolitionist, Falconbridge charts the
demise of her marriage amidst flirtations with the local slave
traders and eventual defection from abolitionism. Her pro-slavery
position is striking for its alliance with strong anti-colonial
Mary Ann Parker's account of the first few years of settlement
at Port Jackson covers social visiting and picnicking, the unique
flora and fauna and observations on many of the colony's leading
players. There are some forthright comments on the horrors of
transportation and a 'manners and customs' portrait of local
aborigines under the rubric 'Observations on the Slave Trade'.
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