Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Daniel Livesay's "Children of Uncertain Fortune"

Daniel Livesay is associate professor of history at Claremont McKenna College.

Here he shares some insight about a big screen adaptation of his new book, Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833:
In general, the thought of Hollywood being remotely interested in what I do feels pretty laughable. But, in some ways I think that a movie actually could be made about my book. Although there is a lot of historical context and analysis that runs through Children of Uncertain Fortune, it’s also largely a collection of stories about individuals. In this case, the stories are about mixed-race Jamaicans – the children of white men, and free and enslaved women – who leave the Caribbean for Britain to escape colonial persecution, but find new challenges across the ocean.

I do think that there are ways to make characters out of the subjects of the book. A number of the mixed-race migrants I trace have really remarkable stories. Some are born into slavery before being manumitted and sent to elite schools in England. Some wear disguises to hide their African heritage when interviewing for positions in Britain. Some travel on to India to try to make their own fortune. Others arrive in Britain, struggle to become accepted by their families, and return to Jamaica. So there are a lot of great accounts to work with.

A number of the subjects in the book are women, and I would love for their stories to come out. If I had to choose an actress to play one of those women, it would have to be Antonia Thomas. She is a terrific actress who has been in a number of great TV shows, including “Lovesick” and “The Good Doctor.” Antonia actually emailed me years ago after she discovered my dissertation online, so she already has an historian’s eye. It would be terrific to see her playing one of the individuals from the book.
Learn more about Children of Uncertain Fortune at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: Children of Uncertain Fortune.

Writers Read: Daniel Livesay.

--Marshal Zeringue