Royal “White” Slave

Dublin Core

Title

Royal “White” Slave

Subject

Blackness in the Theatre

Description

This edition of Oroonoko: A Tragedy was published in London in 1791 by John Bell in a collection called Tragedies. The size of the book is about the size of the palm of a hand, and it is approximately 1.2 inches thick, which is a typical travel size for a book. The most interesting page of Oroonoko is the cover, which is a picture of Imoinda. Imoinda is the white wife of Oroonoko, the black protagonist. Although Imoinda is captured as a slave with Oroonoko, in the picture, she is well dressed rather than ragged, which shows that she is still not in the lowest class. In addition, according to current conventions, the figure on the cover of a book should be the most important character in the book or the most attractive part of the story. The cover usually indicates the selling point of a book. However, instead of using Oroonoko, the publisher used Imoinda in the most conspicuous location in the book. Such an action indicates that the public’s attention not only falls on Oroonoko’s sovereign state but also on his white wife, which indicates the indifference of the public towards slavery at the time the original Oroonoko story was written. Although Oroonoko is fiction, it represents the general public’s typical attitude. Combined with the story of Oroonoko, the cover page of the book suggests the low status of the black population and the apathetic attitude towards slavery at the time Oroonoko took place.

Creator

Thomas Southerne

Source

Oroonoko: A Tragedy

Publisher

John Bell, London

Date

1791

Contributor

Yinxuan Wang

Rights

USC Archives & Special Collections: Call # PR1269 .B7 1791 V.19

Relation

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Format

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Language

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Type

[no text]

Identifier

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Coverage

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Files

Oroonoko.jpg

Citation

Thomas Southerne, “Royal “White” Slave,” Black Britons in USC Archives & Special Collections, accessed September 19, 2017, http://uscblackbritons.omeka.net/items/show/29.