William Wilberforce and the Abolition of the Slave Trade: Recommended Resources
History, like everything else, has become multimedia. When it comes to learning about the past, books are still the main course, but increasingly there are a variety of dishes upon which history is served. Beginning with this issue, we're going to make an even greater effort to make readers aware of the best books, movies, recordings, CDs, and Web sites related to the topic. Here's what we've come up with on Wilberforce and British social reform.
On and by Wilberforce
You'd expect a man as great as William Wilberforce to generate some fine biographies, and he has. Immediately after his death, two of his sons, Robert Isaac and Samuel, penned The Life of William Wilberforce (1839), which is the source of a great deal of material found in later biographies.
For modern treatments, see John Pollock's Wilberforce (Lion, 1977) for a full account, or Garth Lean's God's Politician (Helmers & Howard, 1987) for a quick read. In editing the issue, we found Sir Reginald Coupland's Wilberforce (Collins, 1945) a nice balance of engaging prose and good scholarship.
Wilberforce's best seller is a long book with a long title. The SCM 1958 version retained the title—A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes in this Country Contrasted with Real Christianity—but has given us only the best of the wordy Wilberforce.
Local libraries carry a fair share of books on slavery. One we found particularly helpful, especially for the gripping images it contains, is Susanne Everett's The Slaves: An Illustrated History of the Monstrous Evil (Putnam, 1978).
A thorough and fascinating account of the slave trade can be found in Roger Anstey's The Atlantic Slave Trade and British Abolition: ...