When the Reverend Henry Clarke died in 1907 his obituary described him as an Englishman. Yet he had lived in England for only the first 19 years of his life; he spent the next 60 years in Jamaica, teaching and preaching in the remote western part of the island, and living mainly in Savanna-la-Mar.
Henry Clarke was no obscure country cleric; he was a politician, a businessman, an enthusiastic though unsuccessful inventor, an uxorious husband and the father of eleven children, and he left behind an extraordinary body of writing, including the six-volume diary on which this biography is based. His life spans the years between the ending of slavery and the twentieth-century history of Jamaica. An outsider by colour, nationality and profession, he grew to love his adopted country and strove to improve the lot of the Jamaican people.
Yet the diaries, for all their detail, give only passing reference to the world at large. They are much more concerned with the personal details of the activities, passions and problems of Henry Clarke himself.