Black Americans in Victorian Britain – new book by Jeffrey Green

Black Americans

By telling their stories in the UK, they had a massive impact on the slave industry in the US. In this, the first study of its kind, Jeffrey Green explores and represents the experiences of some of the black American citizens who ventured forth to Britain in the midst of the Victorian era. Whilst there, they informed the Victorian British and Irish about slavery and repression in the United States. Villages, towns and cities from Dorchester to Cambridge, Belfast to Hull, Dumfries to Brighton, learned of the diverse ambitions and achievements of black Americans both at home and overseas. Across the country, numerous publications were sold to the curious and lectures were crowded.

Ultimately, many of the refugees settled in Britain; some worked as domestic servants, others qualified as doctors, wrote books, taught in schools, laboured in factories and on ships. The youngsters went to school. We might not necessarily think of black immigrants when we consider the population of Victorian Britain. But this is a shameful oversight. Their presence was important and their stories, recorded here, are both fascinating and powerful.

Black Americans in Victorian Britain documents the experience of refugees, settlers, and their families as well as pioneering entertainers in both minstrel shows and stage adaptions of the 1850s best-selling novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It offers timely and engaging new perspectives on both Victorian and Afro-American history. They include Marta Ricks via Liberia,  Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, the boxer George Dixon, Rev. Peter Thomas Stanford a church minister in Birmingham and black liberation campaigners like Samuel Ringgold Ward, the doctors Jesse Ewing Glasgow and William Peter Powell.

Published by Pen & Sword Books – special price offer at:

For a YouTube discussion of the book see:


About Jeff

Jeff has researched the black presence in Britain for over thirty years. He has contributed to reference books including the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and appeared on radio and television. He has travelled widely in the United States. His books etc. include: Black Edwardians (Franck Cass. 1998); Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a Musical Life (Pickering & Chatto. 2011); Coleridge-Taylor: a Centenary Celebration (History & Social Action Publications. 2012).

He has also written articles in publications such as History Today, BASA newsletter and Black Music Research Journal. He gives talks e.g. at Black Cultural Archives and at Conferences such as What Happens in British Black History.

He is a founder member of the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Network.

He was a joint producer/editor Black Europe – The Sounds And Images Of Black People In Europe- Pre 1927 (44-CD Box)

See also

Jeff runs his own website on which he posts notes about new research findings.

A collection of his papers are at Black Cultural Archives

Jeff’s talk  Two Liverpool Families. The Powells and the Christians at the WHBBH2 Conference in Liverpool in 2015, can be seen at

About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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