© Matthew Crampton 2016
‘Matthew Crampton has taken a fresh look at the worlds of slavery and emigration.
He’s unearthed some fascinating stories and, crucially, added folk song to let us hear from those whose voices are usually silenced.
Songs give such a distinct perspective on history -
This rich and timely book gives voice to emigrants, slaves, convicts and other human cargo from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Its striking mix of story and folk song sets these past voices beside testimony from today – so shedding new light on a defining disaster of our time. Read some great reviews.
In the summer of 2018 I toured Britain with a story&song show of Human Cargo. At each venue we linked with local refugee support groups as part of the Parallel Lives project. More details.
‘Beautiful, powerful, poignant and informative’
Ilyaz Hajat, The Refugee Council, on the show
Today, smartphones can take us right into migrant boats. But how do we put a face on those trafficked or transported in the past? And how might their experience help us attend to those today in terrified transit?
Human Cargo includes personal testimony from those within the emigrant boats, the convict ships and the slave vessels.
You can read Olaudah Equiano’s rare description of the Middle Passage from a slave’s perspective; Peter Williamson’s account of being kidnapped as a child in Aberdeen and sold into servitude in colonial America; James M’Lean’s life as an American sailor pressed into the Royal Navy; and Robert Whyte’s passage on an Irish coffin ship.
You’ll hear from Scottish families cleared to make way for sheep, petty criminals transported to Australia, Pacific islanders enslaved for Asian plantations, Welsh emigrants to Patagonia, and many more.
Only the rich or lettered leave record of their lives. But what of the masses? To hear their voices, Human Cargo turns to traditional folk songs -
The lyrics of 25 folk songs appear within the book; some well-
Alongside the old story and songs, the book features snapshots of human cargo in the 21st century -
Stories and Songs of Emigration, Slavery and Transportation
Published by Muddler Books
Paperback, 168 pages
Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still
The Press Gang
The Slave Ship Ballad
All Around My Hat
Dean Cadalan Samhach
Jim Jones at Botany Bay
Mamma Mia Dammi Cento Lire
Carrying Nelson Home
The Flying Cloud
The Bristol Bridegroom
The White Cockade