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Colonial Country PRE-ORDER

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Published 16th May 2024. Available for pre-order.

Colonial Countryside is a book of commissioned poems and short stories produced by ten global majority writers featuring National Trust houses with significant colonial histories. This includes properties whose owners engaged in the slavery business, in colonial administration or who were involved with the East India Company or British rule in India.

Historians have accompanied these pieces with commentaries detailing the evidence upon which each creative commission was based. The book ends with a photo essay by the project’s commissioned photographer, Ingrid Pollard, the Turner Prize shortlisted artist who has pioneered critical interventions into the supposed whiteness of the British countryside.

Peter Kalu’s story gives an account of Richard Watt of Speke Hall reflecting on his Jamaican experiences; Karen Onojaife’s story is set in Charlecote Park where a once-favoured Black page finds himself cut adrift; Jacqueline Crooks’ magical realist tale brings together an abused Indian princess and enslaved African employed in the mahogany trade; Ayanna Lloyd Banwo has written about Diego, the Spanish-speaking African who became Drake’s closest confidante; Masuda Snaith’s short story cycle tracks the cross-currents of empire across Lord Curzon’s Kedleston Hall; Maria Thomas’s account of Penrhyn Castle links past and present. It is a gothic tale of history biting back. Malachi’s story features a young Black man who dates a white girl with a taste for country house visiting, including Calke Abbey.

Other contributions include poetic meditations on artefacts to be found in country houses. Hannah Lowe reflects on the taste for Chinoiserie, Seni Seneviratne gives voice to the enslaved children trapped within the frames of 18th century art and Andre Bagoo makes connections between William Blathwayt of Dyrham Park and two stands featuring kneeling African men, brought to the house by his uncle in the seventeenth century.

Peepal Tree Press



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