Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History; a Play in Three Acts by C. L. R. James. Durham. 2013. Duke University Press. Edited and introduced by Christian Høgsbjerg. With a foreword by Laurent Dubois. 224 pages. paperback. Cover: The British Library Board, ‘The Sketch’, 25 March 1936, pg 613. 9780822353140.




   In 1934 C. L. R. James, the widely known Trinidadian intellectual, writer, and political activist, wrote the play Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History, which was presumed lost until the rediscovery of a draft copy in 2005. The play's production, performed in 1936 at London's Westminster Theatre with a cast including the American star Paul Robeson, marked the first time black professional actors starred on the British stage in a play written by a black playwright. This edition includes the program, photographs, and reviews from that production, a contextual introduction and editorial notes on the play by Christian Hogsbjerg, and selected essays and letters by James and others. In Toussaint Louverture, James demonstrates the full tragedy and heroism of Louverture by showing how the Haitian revolutionary leader is caught in a dramatic conflict arising from the contradiction between the barbaric realities of New World slavery and the modern ideals of the Enlightenment. In his portrayal of the Haitian Revolution, James aspired to vindicate black accomplishments in the face of racism and to support the struggle for self-government in his native Caribbean. Toussaint Louverture is an indispensable companion work to The Black Jacobins (1938), James's classic account of Haiti's revolutionary struggle for liberation. This edition of Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History includes the program, photographs, and reviews from its 1936 production at London's Westminster Theatre, a contextual introduction and editorial notes on the play by Christian Hogsbjerg, and selected essays and letters by James and others.


 Cyril Lionel Robert James (4 January 1901–19 May 1989) was an Afro-Trinidadian journalist, socialist theorist and writer. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, then a British Crown colony, James attended Queen’s Royal College in Port of Spain before becoming a cricket journalist, and also an author of fiction. He would later work as a school teacher, teaching among others the young Eric Williams. Together with Ralph de Boissière, Albert Gomes and Alfred Mendes, James was a member of the anti-colonialist Beacon Group, a circle of writers associated with The Beacon magazine.


Christian Høgsbjerg is a historian who lectures at Leeds Metropolitan University.



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