The Fortunes of Francis Barber: The Story of the Enslaved Jamaican Who Became Samuel Johnson’s Heir (Paperback)

The Fortunes of Francis Barber: The Story of the Enslaved Jamaican Who Became Samuel Johnson’s Heir Cover Image
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Description


The story of the extraordinary relationship between Francis Barber, a former slave, and Samuel Johnson, England’s most distinguished man of letters

“A remarkable work of detection, a biography of a black Briton from the eighteenth century that brings to life a rich and vital aspect of our shared history.”—David Olusoga

Born into slavery in Jamaica about 1742, Francis Barber was brought to London as a young boy, becoming a servant in the household of the renowned Dr. Samuel Johnson. He joined the British navy for a time but returned to Johnson’s service, eventually becoming his friend and heir. Barber was one of thousands of black Britons in the period. This is the story of his life, the hostility and support he encountered, and his extraordinary friendship with England’s most distinguished man of letters.
 

About the Author


Michael Bundock is a barrister, a director of Dr. Johnson’s House Trust and an Honorary Research Associate in the English Department at University College London.

Praise For…


“Bundock is elegant and precise in this detailed account of the life of Samuel Johnson’s black servant and eventual heir.”—The Sunday Times ‘Best Paperbacks of 2021’

 

“A remarkable work of detection, a biography of a black Briton from the eighteenth century that brings to life a rich and vital aspect of our shared history.”—David Olusoga

“At last, the biography that Francis Barber deserves. A meticulous yet imaginative book which teases out the full humanity of Dr. Johnson’s servant—and of the affection and hostility he generated among contemporaries.”—James Walvin, author of The Zong: A Massacre, the Law and the End of Slavery

“Michael Bundock has written the first biography in over one hundred years of Francis Barber, Samuel Johnson’s black servant and heir. Acknowledging the groundwork laid over a century ago, Bundock goes well beyond earlier commentators in exploring the evolving relationship between Johnson and Barber.”—Vincent Carretta, University of Maryland

“Like James Boswell before him, Michael Bundock is a lawyer, and in his biography of Samuel Johnson’s servant that background serves him well. Reading the evidence, some newly discovered, he brings Francis Barber to life, deepens our understanding of Johnson, enriches our sense of quotidian eighteenth-century London, and provides an unusual contribution to black history in England.”—Robert Folkenflik, University of California, Irvine

The Fortunes of Francis Barber is the most complete and accurate account of the life of Francis Barber that has ever been produced or is ever likely to be produced. This book far outstrips all earlier accounts.”—Robert DeMaria, Jr., Vassar College



“A remarkable work of detection, a biography of a black Briton from the eighteenth century that brings to life a rich and vital aspect of our shared history.”—David Olusoga
— David Olusoga

“No longer a footnote to Johnson’s story, Barber emerges as a man whose complicated story gives an inside view of what it was like to be a black man in 18th-century Britain.”—Gretchen Gerzina, author of Black London
 
— Gretchen Gerzina

“Commendable not only for its careful research, but also for harnessing the considerable power of Barber's untold story. It will appeal to those who care about history, but it should appeal to those who care about humanity as well.”—Sara Collins, author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton
 
— Sara Collins

“Elegant, precise, formidably informed. Bundock clears away a fog of falsehoods and rebalances the story.”—John Carey, Sunday Times
— John Carey

“Bundock weaves into the absorbing tale of Barber’s life a wealth of material relating to black people in England, especially in London, throughout the 18th century… He writes with clarity, sympathy and tact.”—Freya Johnston, Literary Review
 
— Freya Johnston

“A supremely skilled biography … Barber’s extraordinary and varied career allows Bundock to explore what life felt like for a black man in Georgian England.”Kathryn Hughes, Guardian
— Kathryn Hughes

“Bundock’s lively biography offers a fresh perspective on Johnson and locates Barber both in Johnson’s household and in the context of an empire beginning to debate the political and moral legitimacy of slavery.”—Publishers Weekly
— Publishers Weekly

‘[Bundock] imaginatively recreates the textures of life in 18th-century England and shows an admirable determination to question received wisdom’—Henry Hitchings, the Guardian.

— Henry Hitchings
Product Details
ISBN: 9780300260960
ISBN-10: 0300260962
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: October 26th, 2021
Pages: 296
Language: English