Jane Austen and slavery
In the New English Review, Ibn Warraq defends Jane Austen from Edward Said’s “egregious misreading” of her.
Gabrielle White. . .examines Austen's last three novels, and sets them in the context of the world of the abolitionists. Ms White writes, ‘The last three novels, the so-called Chawton novels [Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion], were written in the decade after the 1807 Abolition. Amongst Jane Austen's favourite writers were people who were passionately anti-slavery, such as William Cowper, Doctor Johnson and Thomas Clarkson. One of her naval brothers was known to be abolitionist. I use the term 'abolition' in connection with both the slave trade and slavery. Cowper's tirade against slavery in lines 37-39 of Book Two of his epic poem The Task is severe, and leads up to the question: 'We have no slaves at home—then why abroad?' Jane Austen would have been aware of the popular campaign for abolition.
As Warraq and White go on to describe, Jane Austen denounced slavery.
Warraq’s piece is here.
Our piece on “the abolition” as Jane Austen called it, is here.