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Canada and slavery in literature

Eleanor Bird discusses the complicated relationship between Canada and slavery

‘Slavery [is]…an iniquity and ought to be abolished.’ This was the view of a Canadian abolitionist in the 1853 novel Twelve Years a Slave (played by Brad Pitt in the 2013 film adaptation).

In the - mid 19th century Canada was a refuge for thousands of former slaves fleeing institutionalised slavery in the United States. However, slavery also existed in colonial Canada until at least the early nineteenth century. Drawing on the Canadian newspaper collection and slave narratives held at the British Library, Eleanor reveals stories that allow us to uncover and examine the voices and experiences of Canada’s enslaved.

Eleanor is a collaborative PhD researcher based at the University of Sheffield and the British Library.

Please bring your packed lunch. Tea, coffee and cake will be provided.

This event is part of the Feed the Mind series of lunchtime research talks.


Eleanor Bird | talks


Date and Time:

31 October 2016 at 12:30 pm


1 hour



British Library
96 Euston Road


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