Black British Studies
African American Women’s Writing
Mixed Race Studies
Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina is a specialist on the novel and biography, she works in the fields of Black British studies; Victorian studies (including Victorian children’s literature); African American women’s writing (especially Toni Morrison), and mixed race studies. She has published nine books in these fields, with two more in the works, and has published numerous articles and reviews.
She works extensively in the media in both Britain and America. She hosted a nationally-syndicated author interview program on American public radio for fifteen years, and appears regularly in podcasts and on British radio, including hosting a ten-part BBC radio series “Britain’s Black Past,” among other appearances. She lectures regularly to universities and conferences in both countries.
Select Media Coverage (7)
‘Why is Bridgerton’s race twisting acceptable?’ The real problem with the show’s Black fantasy
The Guardian online
“My concern is that everyone now starts putting Black characters into their productions in ways that reflect our current interests, but that undermine the actual history,” says Gretchen Gerzina, historian and author of Britain’s Black Past. “So much so that people believe that this was the actual history. That’s the great danger. It gives people a pass to say, ‘Oh, it was all right. They didn’t suffer and they were wealthy.’”
Then Again: Lucy Terry Prince, a poet and storyteller who stood up to the mob
VT Digger online
The story of the Princes has been told and retold over the years, with fact and fiction coalescing in the narrative. Biographer Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, with the research assistance of her husband, Anthony, set out to discover the true story. The resulting book, “Mr. and Mrs. Prince: How an Extraordinary Eighteenth-Century Family Moved out of Slavery and into Legend,” was published in 2008 and nominated for a Pulitzer.
Black environmentalists... where you at?
If You Don't Know Podcast
And black history doesn’t have to be limited to October, so author and academic Gretchen Gerzina drops in and teaches De-Graft about the first black Brits. Spoiler… they were here before the Windrush. Kayne Kawaski, a black history educator (who you might have seen on your timelines) also joins the conversation.
Podcast Episode #73 – Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina
Biographers International Organization online
In this week’s episode we interview Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, Professor of Biography and English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Working with 19 other authors, her book of edited biographies, Britain’s Black Past, was published by Liverpool University Press in March 2020.
For The 'Bridgerton' Fans: 6 Black Authors Who Write Historical Fiction Romance
If you have a predilection for books that have a biographical lens, the works of Dr. Gretchen Gerzina should definitely be on your radar. A scholar of the highest order, Dr. Gerzina considers it a part of her life’s work to explore, unearth, and write about the lives of those who “ … cross boundaries of history, time, place or race.”
An insight on growing up in Springfield: Reflections on Black History Month
Mass Appeal online
February is Black History Month and joining us with her reflections on race and culture is author and English professor at UMass Amherst… Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina.
BBC's You're Dead to Me Podcast online
Greg Jenner is joined by Prof Gretchen Gerzina and comedian Nathan Caton to delve into the extraordinary life and adventures of the 19th-century celebrity, Mary Seacole. Mary was born and raised in Jamaica and rose to fame as a businesswoman and a volunteer nurse during the Crimean War. The episode explores her childhood of practising healing techniques on her pets, the perils of Panama, her experience of cholera, how she dealt with racists, the risks of running a business in a warzone and why she loved being famous.
Select Publications (4)
Black England: A Forgotten Georgian History / Black London: Life Before EmancipationBook – John Murray Publishers
The idea that Britain became a mixed-race country after 1945 is a common mistake. Georgian England had a large and distinctive Black community. Whether prosperous citizens or newly freed slaves, they all ran the risk of kidnap and sale to plantations. Black England tells their dramatic, often moving stories.
Britain’s Black PastBook – Liverpool University Press
edited by Gretchen H. Gerzina
Based on the 2016 series for BBC Radio 4, Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past—the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Unexpected Life Of The Author Of The Secret GardenBook – Rutgers University Press
Gretchen H. Gerzina
Hugely successful in her own time for adult novels and plays, Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924) would be astounded to find out she is remembered for a handful of books for children, but most of all for the enormously popular Secret Garden.
Carrington: A LifeBook – W. W. Norton
Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina
Portrayed in novels by Wyndham Lewis, D. H. Lawrence, and Aldous Huxley, she made a vivid impression on those she met. A satellite member of the Bloomsbury Group, she fell hopelessly in love with man of letters, Lytton Strachey and achieved notoriety by killing herself shortly after his death.