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William Wilberforce: A Biography

Sunday 13/May/2018 - 01:53 PM
Book cover
Book cover
Edited by: Yara Sameh

In the 1780s، around 40،000 slaves a year were taken from Africa in British ships، on the notorious "Middle Passage،" to the Caribbean. In 1787، under an oak tree in Kent، the British Prime Minister، William Pitt، invited his friend William Wilberforce to introduce a parliamentary bill outlawing the slave trade. Neither of them imagined a twenty-year political campaign that would consume the rest of Wilberforce's life.

Born in Hull، England، to wealthy middle-class parents، Wilberforce entered Parliament and became a political celebrity in his day. After undergoing a profound Christian conversion، he set out on a path of service to humanity. Stephen Tomkins charts Wilberforce's tireless battle to end the slave trade، portraying a man of contradictions and extraordinary determination.

Written in a lively and engaging style، this biography of William Wilberforce transports the reader back to a dramatic age of conflict and upheaval. Published as part of the widespread commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Anti-Slave Trade Act -- also celebrated by the 2007 release of the widely acclaimed movie Amazing Grace -- this biography brings an extensive cast of colorful characters vividly to life.

Paperback: 240 pages
Author: Stephen Tomkins
Publisher: Eerdmans; STIFF WRAPS edition (June 15، 2007)
Language: English
Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches

About the Author
Stephen Tomkins is an experienced journalist who holds aPh.D. in church history from London School of Theology andis a contributing editor to the online humor magazineShip of Fools. He is also the author of Paul andHis World.


Editorial Reviews
From Booklist
The great English parliamentary crusader against slavery is a hard biographical subject nowadays، for as Tomkins acknowledges and indeed stresses، despite his abolitionism، Wilberforce (1759–1833) is hardly a model progressive forefather. His other enthusiasms—improving morals and Christian missionary work—amount، by twenty-first-century lights، to censorship (by very punitive measures، including imprisoning and fining poor printers) and cultural colonization. He was antiwar، to be sure، but to keep England safe، he approved the kinds of tactics—suspension of habeas corpus، preemptive military strikes—that today's peaceniks abhor. He exhausted his fortune and advocated laws to improve the lot of poor working people، but he also sought to make trade unions illegal. Loyal to his friends، supportive of his family، humbly self-critical، incorruptible، and implacably abolitionist throughout a nearly half-century-long career، he was a very good man. But he was of his time and station، therefore unacceptably paternalistic to us. Tomkins is never unfair to him، but his distaste shows in far more labored and less fluent writing than distinguishes his John Wesley (2003). Still، prefer this to Kevin Belmonte's less balanced، no better written Hero for Humanity (2002).

"Stephen Tomkins's William Wilberforce: A Biography is succinct and economical but conveys a very powerful impression of its subject." — in Times Online

"The 200th anniversary of Parliament's ban of the slave trade has resulted in a burst of hagiographic enthusiasm for William Wilberforce. Stephen Tomkins's fine book offers something quite different. While genuinely appreciative of this genuinely admirable figure، Tomkins presents a realistic، probing، and full-orbed portrait. It is good to have available such a solid historical account of such an important historical figure." — University of Notre Dame

"In this thoroughly researched and sensitively written biography of William Wilberforce، Stephen Tomkins lays bare both the man and the institution he devoted his life to abolish. Drawing extensively on eyewitness testimonies، Tomkins confronts readers with the brutality of the slave trade as he depicts Wilberforce's extraordinary، religiously grounded efforts to eradicate it. The book takes into account current cultural concerns without succumbing to anachronistic revisionism. A must-read in this 200th anniversary year of British abolition." — Yale University

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