‘Prejudice’ Exposed? Jane Austen’s Links to Slavery ‘Interrogated’Historians in the News
tags: slavery, literature, Jane Austen, English literature, Caribbean history
Historians are spilling the tea over Jane Austen’s connections with slave plantations.
A museum dedicated to the “Pride & Prejudice” author, located at her old home in the Hampshire village of Chawton, is reportedly investigating the Austen family’s place in “Regency era colonialism,” as evidenced by Austen’s love of tea, clothing and other refinements.
Before father George Austen was a clergyman of a local parish, he was a trustee of an Antigua sugar plantation, where slaves from Africa worked the fields to cultivate the prized ingredient that would be part of the Austens’ tea habit.
Introduced to the West by way of China, tea became an English obsession by the early 19th century, particularly once they learned how to grow crops of their own throughout territories in India, Sri Lanka and Africa.
Austen’s penchant for cotton clothing — more “products of empire” — is also said to be a sign of her family’s connection to plantations in the Caribbean.
The director of Jane Austen’s House museum, Lizzie Dunford, told the Telegraph that they intend to spotlight this little-discussed aspect of Austen’s personal story.
“This is just the start of a steady and considered process of historical interrogation,” said Dunford.