We’re delighted that Empire, Race and the Politics of Anti-Caste by Caroline Bressey has been announced as the winner of the Women’s History Network Book Prize 2014. This fascinating book is the first biography of Catherine Impey and the radical political magazine she began to publish in 1888, Anti-Caste. Impey’s magazine, which she edited from her home in Street, Somerset, exposed and condemned racial prejudice throughout the British Isles and the United States, making the small town in which she lived an important destination for political activists from around the world.
The WHN Book Prize is an annual prize given for an author’s first book which makes a significant contribution to women’s or gender history, written in an accessible style. June Hannam, Professor of History at the University of the West of England and chair of the prize’s judging panel, explained why the book is so important and why she and her co-judges thought it worthy of being awarded this year’s prize:
'[Empire, Race and the Politics of Anti-Caste] provides an excellent example of how a study of one woman's life (Catherine Impey) can shed light on really key issues of the nineteenth century and ones that still have relevance today. There have been many studies of the movement against slavery and women's part within this, but very little on attitudes towards race and racism after this. This is why Caroline's book is so important. She draws our attention to how a woman living in a small town, Street, attempted to build an international movement to fight against racial prejudice through editing a journal - Anti-Caste. Through a close reading of the contents of the journal she sheds light on the ideas and concerns of the period. Her book shows the interconnections between the local, the national and the global. She also shows how the 'private' space of the home intertwined with political action since the Impey's home was host to leaders of the movement against racism who visited from all over the world. Finally, the book also sheds light on the attitudes and tensions within the women's movement over race.'
You can read our interview with the author, in which she describes her discovery of Catherine Impey’s scrapbook, why Impey is such an inspirational figure and how her story reflects the politics of race in the Victorian period, here.
If this has inspired you to read the book, we have some further good news: following the book’s success, we’re also pleased to announce that we will be publishing a paperback edition in April 2015. To receive a notification when the book is available to order, please visit the book’s page on our website and enter your email address.
You can also find out more about the book and purchase a copy of the hardback on the Bloomsbury website.