Jane Lancaster


In her “Eight Clues: The Ordinary and Extraordinary Life of Arthur Bowler in Slavery and in Freedom,” Jane Lancaster pieces together the narrative of an extraordinary odyssey taken by an “ordinary” man from the mid-1760s into the nineteenth century. Taking eight “clues,” as her staring point, she carefully recreates the life of Arthur Bowler, who was captured in West Africa in the 1760s as a teenager, brought to Newport, and enslaved by one of the most prominent citizens in the town. With only scraps of evidence concerning Bowler, and background research on locations and incidents from Newport to Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone, the author posits a new way of writing about people who left little evidence about themselves but whose lives are nonetheless crucial to a wider understanding of our history. Jane Lancaster earned a Ph.D. from Brown University, and has taught there and at the R.I. School of Design. She is an independent scholar and has published four books, including Inquire Within, a History of the Providence Athenaeum, and numerous articles on Rhode Island topics with reference to race and gender.