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Summary

The Lamplighter takes us on a journey through the dark heart of slavery. Produced both as a radio and stage play, it also reads as a stirring and a multi-layered poem. Four women and one man tell the story of their lives through slavery, from the the fort, to the slave ship, through the middle passage, following life on the plantations, charting the growth of the British city and the industrial revolution. The Lamplighter focuses on parts of history other books rarely touch upon, revealing the devastating human cost of slavery for individual people. Constance has had to witness the sale of her own child; Mary has been beaten to an inch of her life; Black Harriot has had to become a high class whore; and our lead, the Lamplighter was sold twice into slavery from the ports in Bristol. All four very different voices tell their story, in a rousing chorus that speaks to the experiences of all those oppressed by the slave trade, lifting in the end to a soaring and rally conclusion. 

Radical and widely acclaimed when it was first staged, this groundbreaking play from one of our most beloved poets and writers, Jackie Kay, remains as urgent and daring to this day.

©2020 Jackie Kay (P)2020 Macmillan Publishers International Ltd

Critic reviews

"Ambitious, defiant, angry and gripping...the bitter story of slavery through the experience of four women." (Guardian)

"Jackie Kay’s work, formally expansive and inclusive...is always about the opening up of our notions of identity." (Ali Smith, author of How to Be Both)

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