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Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice

( 19 )

Overview

The sensational tale of the first mixed-race girl introduced to high-society England and raised as a lady...

The illegitimate daughter of a captain in the Royal Navy and an enslaved African woman, Dido Belle was raised by her great-uncle, the Earl of Mansfield, one of the most powerful men of the time and a leading opponent of slavery. When the portrait he commissioned of his two wards, Dido and her white cousin, Elizabeth, was unveiled, eighteenth-century England was shocked to...

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Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice

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Overview

The sensational tale of the first mixed-race girl introduced to high-society England and raised as a lady...

The illegitimate daughter of a captain in the Royal Navy and an enslaved African woman, Dido Belle was raised by her great-uncle, the Earl of Mansfield, one of the most powerful men of the time and a leading opponent of slavery. When the portrait he commissioned of his two wards, Dido and her white cousin, Elizabeth, was unveiled, eighteenth-century England was shocked to see a black woman and white woman depicted as equals. Inspired by the painting, Belle vividly brings to life this extraordinary woman caught between two worlds, and illuminates the great civil rights question of her age: the fight to end slavery.

The feature film Belle is produced by Damian Jones (The Iron Lady, The History Boys, Welcome to Sarajevo), written by Misan Sagay, and directed by Amma Asante, and stars the extraordinary Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido Belle, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Tom Felton, Matthew Goode, and Emily Watson.

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Editorial Reviews

Michael Dirda
“Byrne takes Austen seriously as a writer...[she] brings to life a woman of “wonderful exuberance and self-confidence,” of “firm opinions and strong passions.” Little wonder that every other man she meets seems to fall in love with her.”
Maureen Corrigan
Byrne’s aim is to show how these objects, many of them reproduced in her book in lush color plates, reveal a much more cosmopolitan awareness of the world than is commonly credited to Austen.”
New York Times Book Review for THE REAL JANE AUSTEN
Vividly persuasive…. THE REAL JANE AUSTEN is excellent… particularly on the dissonant topics of theater and slavery….Byrnes section on slavery is better still, establishing links between Austen’s protagonists and contemporary figures, her pointed references and contemporary events, which highlight her supposedly oblivious fiction’s sharp views on the slave trade.”
Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-29
A history of Britain's anti-slavery struggle that begins with a child. Dido Elizabeth Belle, the daughter of a slave, known as Maria, and her aristocratic British lover, Sir John Lindsay, was raised as the adopted daughter of Lindsay's uncle, the Earl of Mansfield, and his wife, Lady Mansfield. With little information available on Dido herself, Byrne (The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, 2013, etc.) places her at the center of an engrossing, and horrifying, history of the strident, combative and ultimately successful abolition movement in England. Where Dido was born and what relationship Lindsay had with her mother are unanswered questions. "The only thing we can know for sure," writes the author, "is that Captain Lindsay took a bold and unconventional step in arranging for his small daughter to be…entrusted to a family member to be brought up as a young lady." That family member was Lord Chief Justice Mansfield, the most powerful magistrate in the land, who ruled on several landmark slavery cases. About 15,000 blacks lived in London in the 18th century, some as servants, some as middle-class landowners. Despite widespread prejudice, even marriage between blacks and whites was not condemned "so long as it did not cross the class divide." But runaway slaves were still subject to capture and resold or returned to their former owners. The "trade in human flesh" flourished in Britain, where slaves were essential as labor on sugar plantations in the island colonies. Despite—or, Byrne speculates, because of—Mansfield's widely known affection for Dido, the judge proved cautious in his decisions, frustrating such ardent abolitionists as Granville Sharp, who sued for the rights of captured slaves. Ultimately, Mansfield agreed: Slavery, he wrote, "is so odious that nothing can be suffered to support it but positive law." Byrne brings to this brief history an eye for telling details of daily life, slaveholders' unthinkable cruelty, and the fervent work of a few good men and women who changed their world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062310774
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/29/2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 83,005
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Paula Byrne is the author of the acclaimed biographies Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and The Secrets of Brideshead and The Real Jane Austen. She lives in Oxford with her husband, Jonathan Bate.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 19 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(3)

Your Rating:

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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2014

    If you would like to read a detailed account about the century b

    If you would like to read a detailed account about the century before slavery was outlawed in Britain, this is the book for you. For that I would give it 4-5 stars.  However, the cover and also the title are misleading. Belle was not the central character, but Lord Mansfield, and many of his rulings on slavery that lead to the future abolition of slavery in Britain are the main topics.  Interesting, but if you are looking for a book that is centered on the life of a mulato women raised as the daughter in an aristocratic British household - with her points of view, any personal details of her life, incidents from her unusual situation, and any romance - this is not the book for you.  It is almost false advertising.

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2014

    Boo

    Not at all what i expected. I thought it was going to tell the story of Belle, but it was like reading a history book! Boring!!!!

    9 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 17, 2014

    Don't buy this book if you're hoping it is a written version of

    Don't buy this book if you're hoping it is a written version of the movie.  It is mostly about slavery and the man who raised her.  I am
    greatly disappointed.  I did not want to buy a book about the English slave trade.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2014

    Disappointment

    Not a story but a history lesson. Informative but very dry.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2014

    Very disappointed

    Mostly historical facts and dates. No story line or character development.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2014

    Not what I expected

    I was expecting a book about her life and struggles. The book was more about her Uncle than it was her. Some interesting history though.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2014

    Annex Sky

    HERE

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2014

    Jack

    He walked in.

    0 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2014

    Henry

    Guess not well later

    0 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2014

    Bella

    ?

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2014

    Kari

    She followed her* Want to watch...The Fault In Our Stars?

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 27, 2014

    Lovely and touching

    This Book vivid character portrayal makes you feel present throughout the story.
    Sorrowful times told of slavery and those brave soles that fought for its abolishment.
    Lives built and lost based on using people as chattel thereby: creating a lifestyle built on the backs of others.

    Belle was a blessing born in terrible times.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 3, 2014

    Interesting, But Not As Much As Hoped For.

    Bought this as a primer for the movie, which I still have not seen. Got enough background on the history of the abolition of slavery from England, but not enough details on the life of the Belle. Suspect the movie will be more interesting but now appreciate it will be up to the screenwriter to fill in details as he/she imagines them to be.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2014

    Tti

    Gi

    0 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2014

    Savannah

    Savannah is a cusin . And a bff . I love her

    0 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews

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