Slavery in Britain

Article

Jane Card, last updated: 2nd December 2013

Slavery in Britain and the portrait of Dido Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray

Introduction

Images reflect the social customs and attitudes of the society in which they are produced, and we may nowdisapprove of these attitudes. Conversely, our own ideas of what is right and wrong may well have been unacceptable in the past. Among these are the rights accorded to children, the disabled, women and people of varied ethnicities.

Therefore many visual historical sources convey messages about such groups which are now thought offensive, and which can upset pupils. Pupils old enough to understand that such images reflect ideas of the historical past can feel more distanced, and thus less threatened. Distance is helpful and this article focuses on the period prior to 1800 within the context of slavery being declared illegal in Britain and a society portrait, figure 1, related to that decision...

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