Antiguan and Barbudan Scholars 

The intellectual tradition of Antigua and Barbuda is an integral part of the larger Caribbean intellectual tradition. Like the latter, the overall structure of the scholarly tradition of Antigua and Barbuda is that of an ongoing series of intense and critical exchanges between us and the scholars of our European colonizers. These agonistic exchanges have centered around issues such as the enslaving of Africans, reparations for this enslavement, relations between African religions and Western Christianity, Western music and Afro-Caribbean music, postcolonial sovereignty, racial equality and economic development. The writing of these challenges to European colonial domination in Antigua and Barbuda began with the Afro-Christian writings of Rebecca Freundlich Protten (1718–1780) and the liberal political texts of Henry Redhead Yorke (1772–1813). Protten and Yorke are the two key anchors that ground our tradition of writing here in Antigua and Barbuda. From them it moves forward to figures like Elizabeth Hart (1772–1833), Mary Prince, Hilda McDonald (1883–), and further into the early twentieth century with the Pan Africanists George Weston and Bishop McGuire, the Black democratic socialism of Novelle Richards, the folkloric aestheticism of Ralf Prince, the Revolutionary socialism of Tim Hector, the Black Laborism of Keithlyn Smith and Lionel Hurst, The Black existentialism of Charles Ephraim, the poeticism of Jamaica Kincaid, and the Black Feminism of Joanne Hillhouse and Natasha Lightfoot.


Rebecca Freundlich Protten was born into slavery in 1718, and grew up in the village of Falmouth in Antigua. She was kidnapped at around age 10, transported to St. Thomas in the then Danish Virgin Islands and sold at an auction. Protten was manumitted on account of her unusually genuine devotion to the Christian (Lutheran) faith. She then joined her fellow Lutheran brothers and sisters and became an evangelist, working both in Germany and Africa. She was also an activist advocating for rights of people of African descent. Her writings took the form of petitions to the Queen of Denmark for the greater protection of peoples of African descent in the Danish West Indies.


Henry Redhead Yorke was born on Barbuda in 1772. His father, Samuel Redhead, was a manager for the Codrington Family in England, who had been granted a lease to the whole island by the British government. His mother, Sarah Bullock, was an enslaved woman of African descent on Barbuda. As a result, Yorke was a mulatto, who was sent to England as a young boy to be educated in the tradition of an aristocratic gentleman. He attended Cambridge University and became a barrister after obtaining his degree in law. Steeped in the aristocratic traditions of his education, one of Yorke’s first publications was a pro-slavery essay. However, this position was quickly reversed with his firm and lasting commitment political liberalism as opposed to monarchism. Yorke was the author of many books, tracts and letters. His books included, These are Times That Try Men’s Souls (1793), and Thoughts on Civil Government (1800).