School of Histories, Languages and Cultures


Ryan Hanley

Emmanuel SaboroPhD Research

Social Influences on Black Writing in Britain, 1770-1830

This interdisciplinary study focuses on writing by black authors in Britain, published during the period of British abolitionism. I examine the social networks of early black authors and explore how these relationships may have impacted upon the contents of the texts being produced. Most black people in Britain during this period were unable to finance the publication of their own work, and frequently they turned to their friends and peers for financial support, as well as to make use of their social connections. As a consequence, many texts written by black people during this period appear to espouse the precise political or doctrinal ideologies of their patrons, even when these ideologies were at odds with those of the authors themselves. An understanding of the nature and structure of black authors’ social networks will enable a revaluation of their works as both literary and historical artefacts.



After studying for a BA in English Literature at Bath Spa University, I worked briefly for Social Services. I then took my MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies at the University of York, where I wrote my dissertation on the autobiography of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, the first published black author in Britain.

In October 2011, I came to the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE) at the University of Hull to begin my doctorate. My research is fully funded by a University Scholarship.

Awards and Activities

2011: University of Hull PhD Scholarship

Conference Papers

  • ‘Commemorating Abolitionism’; Protest History Workshop (University of the West of England: April 2012)
  • ‘Olaudah Equiano and Political Radicalism in the early 1790s’; British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies Annual Conference (Oxford University: January 2012)

Contact Details

Email: r.j.hanley@2011.hull.ac.uk
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