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historical context

The Dark is based in the 18th century, when Britain ruled the worlds of shipping and commerce, and created vast profits from the slave trade.
The Dark uses ghosts and 'ghostliness' as metaphors -  for both the dark and hidden aspects of our past, as well as for the difficulty that we experience when we need to respond to things that we can hear, but cannot see. The ghosts of The Dark are based on the following real people and events from the 18th century.

Edward Rushton
(1756 - 1814)

Radical poet from Liverpool

 

Edward Rushton's poetry:
About a Robin

Will Clewline



Quamina
'Kunle' in The Dark
A young African man

 



John Newton
(1725 - 1807)

The 'Captain' in The Dark
Captain of a slave ship


The Captain in The Dark is based on John Newton, a cruel ships captain, and overseer of many trips along the slave triangle.

Although Newton was raised as a Christian he didn't feel any conflicts between his beliefs and his role in the slave trade. However, during a violent storm at sea he experienced a moment of epiphany and decided to change his life.

Following retirement from the sea, Newton became Surveyor of the Tides in Liverpool, during which time he studied Greek, Hebrew and Theology.

Newton was ordained as a priest in the Church of England in 1764. His sermons almost always referred to his previous sins as the captain of a slaver, and he became a constant advocate for the removal of this cruelty.

Newton also wrote of his experiences in the slave trade in his autobiography An Authentic Narrative published in 1764. Newton co-wrote the words to the song Amazing Grace - one of the sounds that haunts The Dark.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.

John Newton (stanza 6 Anon)

 

image of ghosts
 
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