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Three-fingered Jack is a legendary figure in Jamaica. His story was based on the life of a real person, a man who escaped from slavery some time before 1780, became the leader of a group of maroons in the Blue Mountain region of that island, and was eventually captured and killed. His story was first introduced to the British public by Dr Benjamin Moseley, in his A Treatise on Sugar. It became a hit pantomime, opening in 1800 at London’s Haymarket Theatre, and playing there and in regional theatres for several years after. Two rather different novels, by William Burdett and William Earle, Jr., respectively, were also published in 1800, each also telling Three-Fingered Jack’s story. In 1830, a melodrama version of the pantomime was performed.
This series of web pages attempts to provide a comprehensive bibliography of published accounts of the Three Fingered Jack story, organized according to whether they follow Moseley, Burdett, Earle, the pantomime, or the melodrama. A few more recent versions are in the Miscellaneous and Twentieth-Century list.
No bibliography of this kind is likely to be complete. You are welcome to send corrections, additions or comments to email@example.com. I will endeavour to update the pages fairly regularly, but can’t promise to do so immediately.
About Diana Paton:
I am a historian of the Caribbean, at the University of Newcastle, with a particular interest in Jamaica. I have researched the emancipation period, leading to my publications No Bond But the Law: Punishment, Race, and Gender in Jamaican State Formation, 1780-1870, Gender and Slave Emancipation in the Atlantic World, and my edition of A Narrative of Events by James Williams. I am currently working on a project on the cultural and political history of obeah, which is how I got interested in Three-Fingered Jack. For my analysis of the texts listed in these pages, see my article ‘The Afterlives of Three-Fingered Jack’ published in Slavery and the Cultures of Abolition: Essays Marking the Bicentennial of the British Abolition Act of 1807, ed. Brycchan Carey and Peter Kitson (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2007), pp. 42-63.
All images in the Three-fingered Jack archive courtesy the National Library of Scotland.
* The Slavery Website was created in November 2000 *
* This page last updated 27 June 2008 * © Brycchan Carey and Diana Paton 2000-2008 *
* This page is: http://www.brycchancarey.com/slavery/tfj/index.htm *