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Mr Atkinson’s Rum Contract: The Story of a Tangled Inheritance

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The timing of this book intrigues; had it been published even a month later, I wonder if Atkinson’s publishers would have asked him to address this shameful legacy more directly. Richard “Rum” Atkinson was an 18th-century adventurer of the kind you might find in a picaresque novel. A really interesting family history, such a wealth of sources and letters for the prominent members of the family in the 18th and early 19th centuries. He eventually became an MP and was a highly influential behind the scene fixer in some of the political shenanigans of the 18th century.

It may sound like a stretch to say that it's given me a new lens with which to view today's turbulent world. This vivid tale of a single family, their lives and loves, set against a panoramic backdrop of war, politics and slavery, offers a uniquely intimate insight into one of the most disturbing chapters in Britain’s colonial past. New Paperbacks NEW PAPERBACKS [jsb_filter_by_tags count="15" show_more="10" sort_by="total_products"/] A selection of recent paperbacks. Mr Atkinson’s Rum Contract is the story of a morally tangled inheritance, but it is also the story of Richard Atkinson the younger’s obsessive pursuit of Richard Atkinson the elder.This discovery set him on an all-consuming, highly emotional journey, ultimately taking him from the weather-beaten house of his Cumbrian ancestors to the ruins of their sugar estates in Jamaica.

See our Remarkables Archive list for what is no longer in print, but which we are happy to track down.Still, the thing that’s most interesting about it is the fact that many of his ancestors were slaveowners, holding significant estates in Jamaica. Of course a lot of the history most people will know, but what is so interesting is the way well known events interact with the family and the way Atkinson managed to be if not at the centre of major events at least close by and talking to all the people who were. Overall I found this book a thought provoking and important addition to my understanding of 18th century Britain and our involvement with slavery and the abolition of what we all now understand was a despicable trade.

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