This is an attempt to correct the historical record.
Using a transatlantic lense, the US and British contributors to this book aim to restore black Victorians to the national picture.
They look not just at the ways blacks were represented in popular culture but also at their lives as they experienced them - as workers, travellers, lecturers, performers and professionals.
The essays taken as a whole also highlight prevailing Victorian attitudes toward race by focusing on the ways in which empire building spawned a ""subculture of blackness"" consisting of caricature, exhibition, representation and scientific racism absorbed by society at large.
This subculture made it difficult to be both black and British, while at the same time it helped to construct British identity as a whole.
African American abolitionists in London, blackface minstrelsy and the portrayal of blacks in cartoons and children's magazines and many other topics are covered in this contribution to the emergent field of black history in England.