Arts, Culture & Media

Sugar In The Blood: Andrea Stuart's Barbadian Legacy

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Andrea Stuart (Photo: Julia Hember)

As Andrea Stuart writes in the current issue of Granta magazine, her Barbadian heritage is a complicated one. Stuart was born and raised on the Caribbean island, but in 1976, when she was a teenager, her family moved to England. She says her new home wasn't especially welcoming to newcomers from the Caribbean – even well-educated, affluent ones like the Stuarts.

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In a sense, the Stuarts weren't newcomers at all. More than three centuries earlier, some of her ancestors had made the reverse journey, travelling from England to settle in Barbados. Over time, those British ancestors mixed with Stuart's other forebears – Africans who were forcibly taken to Barbados to work as slaves in the island's lucrative sugar trade.

Stuart writes about her family's history in Barbados, beginning with her earliest known ancestor, George Ashby, who made the journey to the New World from England in the 1630s. She talks with Marco Werman about the complexities of untangling her family tree, and of coming to terms with the idea of being descended from both slave owners and slaves.

Stuart's Granta article is excerpted from her book, Sugar in the Blood, which will be published in the United States next January.

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