The Dreaded West Indies Posting

Soldier of the Black Watch c.1740, colorized {{PD-US}}   When Malcolm McPherson joined the Black Watch in 1735, he and his fellow enlistees “thought themselves destined to serve exclusively . . . in the Highlands."1 They had no expectation they’d do duty in the...

read more

Pimento: A Spice for the Holidays

Pimento, a spice more widely known as “allspice,” is harvested from the berries of the Pimenta dioica, a W. Indian tree commonly found on Jamaica’s north coast. It's not the Spanish red pepper, though its name is derivative of the Spanish pepper (pimiento) and it’s...

read more

As Rich as a Creole

In eighteenth-century Jamaica, a creole was a nonindigenous person born on the island, whether of European, African, or mixed descent. Those referenced in the expression “as rich as a creole,” however, were invariably of European descent. The phrase is a variant of...

read more

Jamaica’s Tapestried Past

  I did a double take when I saw this work hanging in a Montego Bay exhibit last year. Admittedly, my interest was more than casual. I was writing Voices Echo at the time and visiting Jamaica to flesh out my research. Many of the images in the collage echoed...

read more

A Sticky Subtlety

Kara Walker’s “Subtlety” is Anything But Appearances notwithstanding, it's safe to say Kara Walker didn't intend to present a sugarcoated history when she created her cast of sticky subtleties in the defunct New York Domino Sugar refinery earlier this summer. Her...

read more

Sugarcoating History

Sugarcoating the Unsavory Side of History Sugarcoat history? Of course we can, but should we? Not in my opinion. Still, it's a fine line to straddle when writing romantic historical fiction—particularly a story that takes place in brutal 18th-century Jamaica. I know...

read more

Smithsonian Treasures

Did you know the Smithsonian is looking for Digital Volunteers? Anyone can help transcribe old and rare books and manuscripts right from home—a sentence at a time or a page at a time. I explored the site this afternoon and happened upon a treasure--an old Jamaica/Cuba...

read more

Jamaica’s Hurricane of 1780

Was it a Category 5 . . . 6 . . . 7? Jamaicans had no gauge to calculate the force of the hurricane that slammed into their island on October 3, 1780. No gauge other than the baldest, yet most meaningful measurement: the loss of lives,  property, and livelihood. How...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
UA-33291841-1