The Woman of Colour

This 1808 novel tells the story of Olivia Fairfield, a biracial heiress who moves from Jamaica to England to enter her arranged marriage. Olivia, the illegitimate child of a rich planter and a female slave, experiences racism in her new country. Her fiance’s family assumes that she wants to eat rice for breakfast like slaves do, and a young child runs in fear from Olivia, believing her to be “dirty”. Olivia suppresses any anger she may be feeling and calmly educates her new family. When she asks for a regular breakfast, she also expresses sympathy and solidarity with enslaved people and calmly shows the child that her skin is not dirty. Through Olivia, the anonymous author is able to educate the reader and work to dismantle their own prejudices regarding women of color. Oliva remains self-possessed and independent in the face of misfortune, never abandoning her moral goodness or her desire to return to Jamaica and educate other people of color. The novel was largely unknown until this 2007 edition, edited by Lehigh Professor Lyndon Dominique.

Lehigh University Catalog Record:

Anonymous (c. 18th and 19th century)
The Woman of Colour: A Tale
Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2008