History and Literature
1. The Life and Exploits of Three-Finger’d Jack
The Life and Exploits of Three-Finger’d Jack
2. Quasheba’s Revenge
3. Runaway Cudjoe
4. Kitty’s Emancipation and Other True Stories of Jamaican Slaves
5. Lovely Norah and Other Ladies of St. Molasses Island
6. Beckas’s Buckra Baby
7. Maroon Medicine
8. The Jonkonnu Mask and Other Survival Stories
9. Old Jamaica Conversations
10. Old Jamaica Journeys
11. Old Jamaica Memories
12. Old Jamaica Notes
13. Old Jamaica Poems
14. Old Jamaica Stories
The Life and Exploits of Three-Finger’d Jack by William Burdett is a novel about Jack Mansong, an African military hero, who was betrayed into slavery and taken to Jamaica. Jack ran away from the plantation where he worked and escaped into the mountains, where he led a gang of sixty rebels who fought, during the 1780s, for freedom that was not attained until well over fifty years after. Jack Mansong is one of the unsung heroes of Jamaica.
Quasheba’s Revenage is an adaptation of a story originally written by Charles Dickens, William H. Ainsworth, and Albert Smith. When a young slave woman’s husband is killed through the connivance of other jealous slaves, she takes revenge through an ingenious scheme that bolsters her resistance spirit and eventually leads to her freedom.
Runaway Cudjoe by George Cruikshank is a novel based on a true story about a runaway slave in 1820s Jamaica. Cudjoe escapes into the mountains where he lives for the first time in freedom with other runaways. Their liberty is constantly under threat from the British military on the hunt. This is a story that reveals the strong resistance spirit of Jamaicans in the past when they had to fight against slavery.
Kitty’s Emancipation and Other True Stories of Jamaican Slaves
Kitty’s Emancipation and Other True Stories of Jamaican Slaves by Henry Bleby, is a collection of four short stories: “Kitty’s Emancipation,” “Old Moggy,” “Old Hope,” and “Betsey’s Education.” The stories recall the experiences of slaves in Jamaican, before the advent of emancipation in 1838. Some of the incidences are genuinely beautiful and help to reinforce one’s hope in humanity, while others are heart-wrenching and painful to read. At the same time all are testament to the strong survival spirit of the Jamaican people.
Lovely Norah and Other Ladies of St. Molasses Island
Lovely Norah and Other Ladies of St. Molasses Island by George Hammond Hawtayne, is a collection of five short stories: “Miss Elsie’s Hospitality,” “Ginger and Mrs. Stump,” “What Happened to Abba Clarke?” “The Hurlock Sisters,” and “Lovely Norah.” The stories explore some comedies, as well as the various complexities of life on a fictional Caribbean island during the 18th Century colonial period.
Becka’s Buckra Baby
Becka’s Buckra Baby by Tom Redcam (Thomas Henry MacDermot), is a novel that explores the social implications and unforeseen consequences when a young lady gives a little black girl the Christmas gift of a white doll. The novel was first published in1905, and is claimed by many to represent the beginning of modern Anglophone Caribbean prose writing.
Tom Redcam was a pioneer of stories written by Jamaicans, about Jamaica, for Jamaicans. Today, the main library on the island, as well as the street on which it is located, is named in his honour.
Maroon Medicine by E. Snod (E. A. Dodd) is a collection of four short stories that portray the lighter side of people in Jamaica. First published in 1905, these fictional stories: “Maroon Medicine,” “Paccy Rum,” “The Red Cock,” and “The Courting of the Dudes,” are sketches from rural Jamaican life in the early 1900s, and as such are both extremely humorous and immensely valuable.
The Jonkonnu Mask and Other Survival Stories
The Jonkonnu Mask is a collection of ten stories about children who survive against all the odds. Meet Aisha who goes to live with her mother in a foreign country, Boogsie the car washer, the Windscreen Boys, a scholarship girl, and determined Omari, Jamila, and more. These children not only survive, they go on to build lives that are honest and valuable.
Old Jamaica Conversations
Old Jamaica Conversations is a collection of ten conversations that recall the Jamaican people’s unique history and culture. The various conversations recapture the cruelties of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery, the difficulties the slaves faced when they wanted to convert to Christianity or worship freely, the joy many felt on the eve of emancipation in 1838, insightful proverbs and parables, as well as different view of the future of the island nation. Included in the collection are: “No Rum! No Sugar! Or, The Voice of Blood,” by an anonymous author; William Knibb’s “The Persecuted Disciple” and “The Death of a Female Slave;” William Jameson’s “I Never See Goshen People So Quiet;” James Phillippo’s “Seven Christian Dialogues;” Joseph Williams’s “Ashanti Proverbs in Jamaica;” Charles Joseph Rampini’s “Jamaican Proverbs;” and John Henderson’s “The Politics of a Jamaican Negro,” and “The White Man’s Politics.”
Old Jamaica Journeys
Old Jamaica Journeys is a collection of ten revealing journeys people took to and through the island of Jamaica. First is Alexander Falconbridge’s account of sailing with slaves to the island, which is followed by Henry Bleby’s “Just to Look at Massa Minister.” The complexities of the island are recalled in Charles Rampini’s “To the Bullhead” and “In Bluefields Bay;” Edgar Bacon’s “Port Antonio;” Charles James Ward’s “The Blue Mountains;” John Henderson’s “Bog Walk;” Joseph Williams’s “Weird Happenings,” (about the earthquake of 1907); and finally, H. G. De Lisser’s “Kingston,” and “On the Way to Montego Bay.”
Old Jamaica Memories
Old Jamaica Memories is a collection of ten articles that give glimpses into how ordinary people lived on the island through the years. Alexander Barclay’s 1827 account of plantation life is valuable, as too Benjamin McMahon’s “Sarah from Harmony Hall.” The other memories are: James Edward Alexander’s “A Favoured Isle;” Henry Bleby’s “I Saw the Monster Die,” (about a watch night service on the eve of emancipation – July 31st, 1834); Jas Thome and Horace Kimball “A Day with Special Magistrate,
Richard Hill,” during the apprenticeship period; James Phillippo’s “Clarkson Town” that describes one of the first free villages established by former slaves; Theodora Elizabeth Lynch’s “The Cotton-Tree;” Robert Hill’s scrutiny of Jamaicans in the 1890s; Ralph Hall Caine’s recollection of the 1907 Kingston earthquake; and finally an exploration of unique Jamaican religious observances with H. G. De Lisser’s “Revival Time.”
Old Jamaica Notes
Old Jamaica Notes is a collection of extracts from books that address different aspects of life, or particular experiences, in old-time Jamaica. The collection begins with Robert Montgomery Martin’s “From Columbus to Cromwell,” and traces the early history of the island, from the arrival of the Spaniards to the British capture in 1655. The next account is Emmanuel Heath’s “I Saw the Earth Open,” an eyewitness account of the1692 earthquake that destroyed the pirate’s lair of Port Royal. The other notes are: Charles Joseph Rampini’s “The Obeahman;” Alexander Barclay’s “Catching Fish and Crabs;” Frederick John Robinson’s “What Happened to Eleanor James;” Michael Scott’s “John Canoe,” an extract from his celebrated novel, Tom Cringle’s Log; Mary Gaunt’s “The Plantation Books,” William Knibb’s “The Planning of the Christmas Rebellion in 1831;”
Algernon Aspinall’s, “The Legend of Rose Hall;” and finally John Henderson’s the light-hearted “Love Letters.”
Old Jamaica Poems
Old Jamaica Poems is an anthology of twenty-four great poems about Jamaica that were written during the last three-hundred years. In many cases the verses are preceded by a brief account of the poet’s life, such as the interesting chronicle of Francis Williams, a Jamaican who was probably the first negro poet in all of the Americas to have his poems published. Other poets represented in the collection are: Philip Morin Freneau, John Marjoribanks, Edward Rushton, Charlotte Turner Smith, Emily Capadose, Richard Robert Madden, Tropica (Mary Adella Wolcott), Henry Shirley Bunbury, Tom Redcam (Thomas Henry MacDermot), Eva Nicholas, and Claude McKay.
Old Jamaica Stories
Old Jamaica Stories is an anthology of stories that cover a range of topics at the heart of the island’s history and culture. The collection begins with Henrietta Camilla Jenkin’s “The Runaway,” an extract from her1859 work, Cousin Stella. Next is a story from another renowned novel, Hamel, The Obeah Man; then follows Maria Edgeworth’s “Hector and Caesar,” also an extract (from her May 1801 short story “The Grateful Negro”). Benjamin Moseley’s “Three-Fingered Jack,” about the legendary runaway slave, Jack Mansong, precedes “Clarissa’s Lesson;” “Courting Miss Rosabella,” by William George Hamley; “Benjie and Juno,” by Henry Bleby, and “When North Joins South” by W. Ralph Hall Caine. This anthology closes with two stories that pull us deeper into the distinctive world of Jamaican religious beliefs and cultural traditions – “Susanah,” and “Ninth Night,” – by Jamaican writer, H.G. De Lisser.