The Fortunes Of Francis Barber: The True Story Of The Jamaican Slave Who Became Samuel Johnson?s…

Hardcover | March 31, 2015

byMichael Bundock

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This compelling book chronicles a young boy’s journey from the horrors of Jamaican slavery to the heart of London’s literary world, and reveals the unlikely friendship that changed his life. Francis Barber, born in Jamaica, was brought to London by his owner in 1750 and became a servant in the household of the renowned Dr. Samuel Johnson. Although Barber left London for a time and served in the British navy during the Seven Years’ War, he later returned to Johnson’s employ. A fascinating reversal took place in the relationship between the two men as Johnson’s health declined and the older man came to rely more and more upon his now educated and devoted companion. When Johnson died he left the bulk of his estate to Barber, a generous (and at the time scandalous) legacy, and a testament to the depth of their friendship.
 
There were thousands of black Britons in the eighteenth century, but few accounts of their lives exist. In uncovering Francis Barber’s story, this book not only provides insights into his life and Samuel Johnson’s but also opens a window onto London when slaves had yet to win their freedom.

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From the Publisher

This compelling book chronicles a young boy’s journey from the horrors of Jamaican slavery to the heart of London’s literary world, and reveals the unlikely friendship that changed his life. Francis Barber, born in Jamaica, was brought to London by his owner in 1750 and became a servant in the household of the renowned Dr. Samuel Johns...

Michael Bundock is a director of Dr. Johnson’s House Trust and former editor of The New Rambler, the annual journal of the Johnson Society of London. He is the author of numerous essays and articles on Samuel Johnson, Francis Barber, and eighteenth-century history and literature.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:296 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 1 inPublished:March 31, 2015Publisher:Yale University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0300207107

ISBN - 13:9780300207101

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“Another outsider who has attracted a supremely skilled biography this year is Francis Barber, the Jamaican slave who became valet to Samuel Johnson. A model of how to use one apparently insignificant life to break open a historical moment that could otherwise be approached only through historical documents… allows Bundock to explore what life felt like for a black man in Georgian England—Kathryn Hughes, Guardian