Kent’s Black Edwardian priest – The story of James Arthur Harley 1873 – 1943

Pamela will present an overview of her discovery of James Arthur Harley’s archive and her five-year journey to bring his story to life, his time as a curate and priest in the Kentish village of Chislet and the coastal town of Deal, followed by a Q&A session.

Join Pamela Roberts, creative producer, historian, and author of Black Oxford, the Untold Stories of Oxford University’s Black Scholars, Signal 2013, in conversation with Dr Ralph Norman, Principal Lecture Theology, Religion, Philosophy, and Ethics, Canterbury Christ Church University, as she discusses her latest book, the biography of James Arthur Harley, 1873 – 1943. The Adventures of a Black Edwardian Intellectual. Signal Books 2022.


About the book

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.

Roberts’ meticulously researched book tells Harley’s hitherto unknown story from humble Antiguan childhood, through elite education in Jim Crow America to the turbulent England of World War I and the General Strike. Based on Harley’s letters, sermons, writings, contemporary accounts, and later oral testimony, this is an account of an individual’s trajectory through seven decades of dramatic social change.

Pamela Roberts –  Creative Producer, Historian, 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 a series of biographical entries for Oxford University Press National Dictionary of Biographies.

St Paul’s Church
North Holmes Road
Canterbury, CT1 1NH

7pm – 8.00pm

FREE to attend, but donations requested for church funds

Websites | Twitter @blackoxford

Please register for your FREE place at