The Adventures of a Black Edwardian Intellectual – The story of James Arthur Harley

Saturday 8th October

Join us for an exclusive presentation and a Q&A to celebrate the release of Pamela Roberts’ latest book: The story of James Arthur Harley


Join Pamela Roberts, award-winning creative producer, historian, and author of Black Oxford, the Untold Stories of Oxford University’s Black Scholars, Signal 2013, in conversation with  Carol Leeming, FRSA, MBE, as she discusses her latest book, the biography of James Arthur Harley, 1873 – 1943. The Adventures of a Black Edwardian Intellectual. Signal Books 2022.

Scholar, reverend, politician, and perhaps aristocrat… James Arthur Stanley Harley was certainly a polymath. Born in All Saints village in the Caribbean Island of Antigua, he went on to attend Harvard, Yale and Oxford universities, was ordained a priest in Canterbury Cathedral and was elected to Leicestershire County Council. He was a pioneer Oxford anthropologist, a country curate and a firebrand councillor. This remarkable career was all the more extraordinary because he was black in an age – the early twentieth century – that was institutionally racist.

Settling in Britain and after years of being stymied by the racism of the Anglican Church, Harley finally left and became deeply involved in politics in Leicestershire, at the municipal and county levels. His growing radicalization (and popularity), especially after the 1926 General Strike, is one of the most intriguing aspects of his story.’

Professor Winston James, University of California, Irvine

How many people studied at Harvard, Yale and Oxford and went on to be a Church of England vicar and political activist? Along the way, James Arthur Harley’s life casts light on economics and education in the late nineteenth century Caribbean, elite black life in gilded era Washington and the racism of early twentieth-century England. His was an extraordinary career that challenged stereotypes and tells untold stories. It is also a piece of fascinating historical detective work by Pamela Roberts, making it an addictive and thoroughly good read.

Pippa Catterall, Professor of History and Policy, University of Westminster

About the author

Pamela Roberts FRSA, FRHistS is a Creative Producer, Historian, Author and Eccles Centre Visiting Fellow at the British Library. She is also the founder of Black Oxford: Untold Stories™ – celebrating Oxford University’s historical and contemporary Black scholars from the turn of the 20th century to the present day through the delivery of lecture programmes and creative projects. Pamela has written for BBC History magazine and series of biographical entries for Oxford University Press National Dictionary of Biographies, BBC History magazine

Websites | Twitter @blackoxford

About the host

Carol Leeming MBE, FRSA, an Antiguan/Jamaican heritage and Leicester resident.  Writer, Director, Performer Multi-Disciplinary Artist.

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