2022 Winner: The Curious Female Traveler: Anna Maria Falconbridge’s Narrative of Two Voyages to the River Sierra Leone

Project Information
The Curious Female Traveler: Anna Maria Falconbridge’s Narrative of Two Voyages to the River Sierra Leone
HIS 190X History of the Atlantic World, 1492-1824
An outsider to the colonial undertaking in West Africa, Anna Maria Falconbridge was the first English-speaking woman to communicate a response to the first attempted self-governing colony on the African West Coast, the Sierra Leone Colony, during two visits to the settlement in the late eighteenth century. Her text, entitled Two Voyages to Sierra Leone During the Years 1791-2-3, provides an account of her experiences with her husband Alexander Falconbridge during his time as an administrator for the Sierra Leone Company, the commercial venture that followed, and the arrival of the Black Nova Scotian Loyalist community. The fourteen letters which constitute Falconbridge’s narrative explicate the precarious nature of her position as a woman in colonial society with reference to colonization, slavery, and the intersections of race and gender. The text revolves around themes of powerlessness, mistreatment, and dispossession felt at the hands of masculinist interests, with reference to both slavery and her experiences of imprisonment, fear, and powerlessness at the hands of her husband and the Sierra Leone Company. Falconbridge relies upon the metaphor of enslavement heavily throughout her narrative, employing it as a conduit through which to explore the social prescriptions of gender and sexual subservience for British women in the late eighteenth century. Falconbridge’s narrative can be seen as a continual negotiation between the public societal expectations for an eighteenth-century English woman such as herself, and her attempts to claim literary authority in a colonial environment that marginalizes her. Two Voyages is a vital source in beginning to more deeply understand white women’s unique positions in colonial societies during the era of European colonization.
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  • Chloe Zane Seifert (Kresge)