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Thomas Thistlewood’s Diary

Writing a book about Jamaica in the 1760s was fascinating, and often horrifying, to research. I wanted to share some of the books I referenced to capture vital information about the period.

My research fell into these categories:

  • The general history of the time
  • The specific historical circumstances of slavery in the West Indies during this period
  • The cultural landscape
  • The role of the supernatural in this time period, including the occult, alchemy and the Obeah religion

Thomas Thistlewood

My starting point was a remarkable document of the period, In Miserable Slavery: Thomas Thistlewood in Jamaica, 1750-86.

Thomas Thistlewood was a land owner and plantation overseer in Jamaica in the period I’m writing about. I learnt so much from this book – about the conditions of the times, and the roles played by people in different sections of society during the slave era.

In fact Cyrus, the main character in my first novel Above the Circle of the Moon, was inspired by Thomas Thistlewood’s son, John, a mulatto. 

I tried to make Above the Circle of the Moon as historically accurate as possible and this book was one of the key texts for achieving that.

The diary is fascinating in its entirety, but if you want a good overview of life during Thistlewood’s time, I recommend Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World.
 
Mastery, Tyranny and Desire
 
I’d love to hear what you think of these books, or if you have any other recommendations for books about the West Indies in the 18th century. Please let me know in the comments below.
 

Please note: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post to Amazon, but this doesn’t increase the cost to you.

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