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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

'Kunle' in The Dark
A young African man


John Newton
(1725 - 1807)

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

Kunle in The Dark is based on an African man (possibly a slave) named Quamina who met Edward Rushton aboard an American ship. Rushton recounted to his friends many times that he had befriended a young African boy on a ship, whom he had taught to read and write, and who had later saved his life.

This event took place when the small boat that Quamina and Rushton were in sank as they were pulling to shore in rough seas. Seeing that his friend was exhausted, Quamina pushed an empty water cask towards Rushton for him to cling to. Unfortunately, Quamina then drowned.


Kunle's character is based on a young man from Yorubaland, in West Africa, who was being initiated into Ifa practice - an eight to ten year process - when he was taken by slave traders.

Throughout his captivity Kunle attempts to continue his religious practice and reconnect with his distant culture and beliefs by divining and creating medicines from substitute plants that he finds in the New World, and by sacrificing to influence the outcome of events.


image of ghosts
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