This volume uses a series of portraits of 'imperial lives' in order to rethink the history of the British Empire in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It tells the stories of men and women who dwelt for extended periods in one colonial space before moving on to dwell in others, developing 'imperial careers'. These men and women consist of four colonial governors, two governors' wives, two missionaries, a nurse/entrepreneur, a poet/civil servant and a mercenary. Leading scholars of colonialism guide the reader through the ways that these individuals made the British Empire, and the ways that the empire made them. Their life histories constituted meaningful connections across the empire that facilitated the continual reformulation of imperial discourses, practices and cultures. Together, their stories help us to re-imagine the geographies of the British Empire and to destabilize the categories of metropole and colony.
Review of the hardback: '[Colonial Lives] brings together recent work on biography and subjectivity on the one hand and the literature on space and place that has done much to shape contemporary apprehensions of empire, and it does so with fresh insight and a lot of intellectual energy as well.' Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History
Review of the hardback: '... this is a fine collection of scholarly essays that shed important light on the complex spatialities of the British Empire. As such it deserves a wide readership. One hopes it will inspire further scholarship to elucidate those new networks that were forged by colonised subjects and that similarly spanned imperial space and shaped subjectivities.' Journal of Historical Geography
Review of the hardback: 'Colonial Lives amply demonstrates what biography at its best can do: provide a window into larger subjects and themes, readable and compelling human sized history.' Journal of Historical Biography
Review of the hardback: 'This book offers more than simply a new spatial framework for understanding empire; it is a series of biographical sketches of life histories that explore the complexity and ambiguity of trans imperial identity through the tracing and mapping of careers across multiple sites of empire.' Journal of Southern African Studies
Review of the hardback: 'Colonial Lives across the British Empire: Imperial Careering in the Long Nineteenth Century, gives readers a solid and more complex sense of the individuals, many of them not well known, who travelled to or worked in the remoter parts of the British empire. Through these individual lives, and as a result of the editors' fine introduction, the reader better understands the idiosyncratic, varied, and complicated nature of being a colonial during that period.' Studies in English Literature 1500-1900
'The volume as a whole works very well as a way of questioning the conventions of writing about the imperial past ... Taken as a whole the collection offers a series of intriguing paths that begin to trace out what mightbe a new historical geography of the circuits of empire.' Cultural Geographies
"Taken together, the essays in this volume ratify the editors' claim that 'tracing trans-imperial networks can also inform a research agenda that goes beyond comparison and looks for actual historical connections and disconnections between different sites of empire' (30). Among the many vocations available for the future history of British imperialism, this is surely one of the most exciting and compelling."
- Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, Antoinette Burton
"deserves a considered response from those more generally concerned with empire. The volume as a whole will be read with pleasure and profit by many who...will be stimulated to think through their own conceptions of imperial geography." -Elizabeth Baigent, H-HistGeog
"The editors are eloquent on the strengths of the approach of transnational biography as a way of understanding empire, and, overall, the collection is a worthy demonstration of these possibilities" -Kirsten McKenzie, American Historial Review
Taken as a whole the collection offers a series of intriguing paths that begin to trace out what might be a new historical geography of the circuits of empire. Working that up into a map will require many more lives to be followed." -Miles Ogborn, Cultural Geographies