What do the following have in common? Graham Greene and George Orwell. The founders of Barclays and Lloyds. The accounting firms Deloitte and Pricewaterhouse-Coopers. The insurance companies Royal Sun Alliance and Indemnity Mutual Marine (Aviva). The former Lord Chancellors Douglas Hogg and Quintin Hogg (Lord Hailsham). The former Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha. The family of the Earls of Harewood, and the Holland-Hibberts family (the Viscounts Knutsford). The Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins and the writer Marina Warner. The Codrington Library of All Souls College, Oxford. The Universities of Cambridge and Glasgow. The Bank of England, the British Museum, the National Gallery and the National Trust. . . . The families of these individuals, and the founders and benefactors of these institutions, had all originally derived their wealth and standing from slaveholding. — Krishan Kumar

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rue, the British outlawed slavery, spent an enormous amount of money to compensate slave owners so there would be no conflict about setting free slaves, and devoted a large proportion of money to pay for its navy to capture slave ships (illegally) in international waters. See the links below. Nonetheless, as a number of recent books have shown, England continued to be shaped by — to benefit enormously — from slavery long after its abolishment. Many great fortunes derive from the slavery compensation payments, and, as Corinne Fowler has shown, many of the great country houses preserved by the National Trust were build with money ultimately derived from slavery. Victorian England, in other words, prospered from slavery long after slavery itself disappeared. — George P. Landow


Capitalism and slavery fifty years later: Eric Eustace Williams--a reassessment of the man and his work New York: Peter Lang, 2000.

Draper, Nicholas. The Price of Emancipation: Slave-ownership, Compensation and British Society at the End of Slavery. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Fowler, Corinne. Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England’s Colonial Connections. Peepal Free Press, 2021.

Hall, Catherine. Legacies of British slave-ownership: colonial slavery and the formation of Victorian Britain. Cambridge, United Kingdom; New York: Cambridge University Press 2014.

Kumar, Krishan. “Made in Britain: The Economic and Cultural Legacies of Slavery.” Times Literary Supplement. (21 May 2021): 7-8. Review of books including those by Scanlan and Taylor that provides an overview of the subject.

Scanlan, Patrick X. Slave Empire: How Slavery Built Britain. Robinson, 2021.

Taylor, Michael. The Interest: How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery. Bodley Head, 2020.

Williams, Eric Eustace. Capitalism & slavery Chapel Hill, Univ. of North Carolina Press: 1944.

Williams, Eric. British capitalism and Caribbean slavery: the legacy of Eric Williams. Cambridge Cambridgeshire; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

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Last modified 7 March 2022