Empire, or aspects of Empire
The dates in this timeline have been selected from a
See also Brycchan Carey's site on
Slavery, Abolition and
1492 Christopher Columbus discovers the New World.
Caetera, Papal Bull of Pope Alexander VI divides the world into
non-Christian territories which may be claimed by the Spanish or the Portuguese.
1540s In On Temperance, On the Indians Newly Discovered and
The Law of War Francisco Victoria argued that the only just cause for war
was the right to self-defence, but defended the Spanish presence in the West
Indies by asserting their natural right to a free passage and hospitable
reception, their right to preach and to engage in commerce, and their right to
anything not specifically owned by Indians.
1571 In De Regio Potestate (written in 1560s) Bartolomé de las Casas
(1474-1566) protested against Spanish aggression against the Indians as
1588 Defeat of the Spanish Armada.
1589 The Principal Navigations, Voyages and Discoveries of the English Nation
(enlarged into 3 volumes 1598-1600) by Richard Hakluyt (?1552-1616)
1611 The Tempest, a play by William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is especially
interesting for the Caliban/Prospero confrontation in
1645 "The Battle of the Summer Islands", a mock-heroic poem by Edmund Waller
c. 1653 "Bermudas", a poem by
Andrew Marvell (1621-78) celebrates the islands as an escape for persecuted
1678 Oroonoko, or the History
of the Royal Slave, a novel by Aphra Behn (1640-89).
1701-14 The War of the Spanish Succession.
By Treaty of Utrecht, UK gains Gibraltar, Minorca, Hudson Bay, Nova
Scotia & Newfoundland, as well as right of asiento.
Crusoe, a novel by Daniel Defoe (1660-1731).
1729 "A Modest Proposal", a satirical pamphlet by Jonathan Swift (1667-1745).
1750 Settlement begins on Gold Coast.
sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les hommes, a
philosophical essay by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78).
1756-63 The Seven Years' War
1764 The Sugar-Cane, a long poem by James Grainger (1723-1767).
1770 James Cook's first voyage (including NZ and Australia)
1772 Lord Mansfield rules in the
1773 Lord North's Regulating Act (India).
upon Slavery", an essay by John Wesley, based on Some Historical Accounts of
Guinea (1771), by Anthony Benezet, an American Quaker.
Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, an essay on
economics by Adam Smith (1723-90)
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a historical account in
three volumes (1776-81) by Edward Gibbon (1737-94)
1782 Posthumous publication of letters of
"Verses Supposed to be
Written by Alexander Selkirk", a poem by William Cowper (1731-1780)
1784 Pitt's India Act separates the political & commercial functions of the
East India Company.
1787 Abolition Society founded.
Freetown, Sierra Leone established as settlement for freed slaves.
1788 First settlement of Australia as a penal colony
An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species by
universelle des droits de l'homme et du citoyen
Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the
African, Written by Himself
"The Little Black Boy", a poem in Songs of Innocence and of
Experience by William Blake (1757-1827)
1791 Canada Act divides Canada into two provinces under governor-general.
1793 Cornwallis's permanent Sttlement of Bengal revenues.
Sorrows of Yamba, or the Negro Woman’s Lamentation", a long poem attributed
to Hannah More (1745-1833)
Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville (written 1771), an essay by Denis
1798 Great Rising in Ireland
1799 "The Castaway", a poem
by William Cowper (1731-1780)
1798, 1803 On the principle of Population as it affects the Fututre
Improvement of Society, an essay by Thomas Malthus (1766-1834)
Travels in the Interior of Africa, a travel account by the explorer
Mungo Park (1771-1806)
1801 Act of Union with Ireland.
1807 Slave trade abolished in the British Empire.
1814 Napoleon's defeat cedes St. Lucia, Malta, Mauritius, British Guiana,
Windward Islands and Cape of Good Hope to UK.
1817 "On First looking into
Chapman’s Homer", a poem by John Keats (1795-1821)
1818 History of British India, by James Mill (1773-1836).
1823 Anti-Slavery Society founded.
1821 Monrovia founded by American charity for return of freed slaves.
1828 Researches in South Africa, essay by John Philip, defending the
African point of view.
1830 Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796-1862) forms the Colonization Society.
1823 "An Appeal to the Religion, Justice and Humanity of the Inhabitants of the
British Empire on Behalf of the Negro Slaves in the West Indies", an essay by
1833 Emancipation Act: slavery abolished in the British Empire.
1835,1840 La Démocratie en Amérique, a two-volume essay by Comte Alexis
de Tocqueville (1805-59)
1835 "Minute on Education" by T.B. Macaulay (1800-59).
1837 Aborigines Protection Society founded.
1838 The Durham Report advocates responible government for Canada.
1840 Canada Act reunites Upper and Lower Canada.
1839-42 First Opium War.
1840 Treaty of Waitingi.
1841 Niger expedition.
1846 Repeal of the Corn Laws.
1847 Liberia becomes independent republic.
1849 Navigation Acts repealed.
1851 Australian Gold Rush.
1854 Colonial Office established.
1854-55 Crimean War, during which
Seacole (1805-81) serves as a nurse.
1855 Westward Ho! an historical novel by Charles Kingsley (1819-75)
1856-60 Second Opium War.
1857 The Indian Mutiny leads to the British government taking direct control
of India (1858)
1857-9 The First Indian War of Independence, a series of articles by Marx
1857 Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa by David
Representative Government, a political essay by J.S. Mill (1806-73).
1865 Colonial Laws Validity Act : colonial legislatures could pass laws
contrary to English common law, but not Imperial statute law.
The harsh suppression of the Morant Bay rebellion in Jamaica causes
controversy in England.
1868 A Vindication of the African Race, an essay by J.Africanus Horton
Greater Britain, by Sir Charles Dilke (1843-1911)
1869 Opening of the Suez Canal
1870 Inaugural speech as Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford by
of the newspaperman Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904) and the explorer and
missionary David Livingstone (1813-73)
1872 Crystal palace speech by Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81)
1877 Queen Victoria proclaimed Empress of India
1877-82 The Principles of Sociology, by Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) laid
the foundations of Social Darwinism.
1882 British occupation of Egypt.
1878 Boy’s Own Paper
1880-1 First Boer War ends in British defeat at Majuba Hill.
1881 The Aims and Methods of a Liberal Education for Africans, an essay
Wilmot Blyden (1832-1912).
1883 The Expansion of England in the Eighteenth century, an historical
account by John Robert Seeley (1803-95).
Island, a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894).
The Story of an African Farm, an autobiographical account by
1884 Imperial Federation League founded.
1884-5 Berlin Conferences partition Africa.
Indian National Congress founded.
Death of General Gordon at Khartoum.
King Solomon’s Mines, a novel by H. Rider Haggard
1886 Discovery of gold on Witwatersrand.
Royal Niger Company chartered.
Oceana, or England and her colonies, an essay by
J.A. Froude (1818-1894)
"Opening of the
Indian and Colonial Exhibition by the Queen", a poem by Tennyson (1809-92)
1887 First Colonial Conference, for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.
Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race, an essay by Edward Wilmot
A History of Adventure, a novel by H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925)
1888 Imperial British East Africa Company chartered.
The English in the West Indies, a travel book by J.A. Froude
1889 Chartered British South Africa Company founded by Cecil Rhodes
Froudacity, a reply by John Jacob Thomas (1840-89)
1890 Problems of Greater Britain, by Sir Charles Dilke (1843-1911).
1890-94 R.L. Stevenson (1850-94) in
Samoa publishes several South Sea Tales
1892 Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917) becomes first Indian M.P. elected to
Parliament in Westminster.
Barrack-Room Ballads, poems by
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1937)
1895 Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914) becomes Colonial Secretary.
The Growth of British Policy, an historical account by John
Robert Seeley (1803-95).
1896 Travels in West Africa, by
1897 Diamond Jubilee.
African Association founded by Sylvester Williams (1869-1911)
An English South African’s View of the Situation, an essay by
Olive Schreiner (1855-1920)
1898 The Spanish-American War makes the United States a colonial power.
Première of "Hiawatha's Wedding Feast", composed by Samuel Coleridge
1898-1901 The Boer War
1900 First Pan African Conference > "Address to the Nations of the World" by
W.E.B. DuBois and others, and "Memorial to Queen Victoria"
"Fabianism and the Empire", a manifesto for the Fabian Society, written
by George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Armies in South Africa, by the American journalist Richard Harding Davis
1901 Australian Federation.
Problems of Indian Poverty, a Fabian pamphlet by S.S. Thorburn
a novel by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1937)
Heart of Darkness", a short story by
Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)
Imperialism : a Study, by J.A. Hobson (1858-1940)
1903 The Souls of Black Folk,
stories and essays by W.E.B. Dubois (1868-1963)
Gold Coast Native Institutions, a study by J.E. Casely Haylford
1904 Entente Cordiale.
1906 Zulu uprising in Natal.
Muslim League founded.
White Capital and Coloured Labour, an essay by Sydney Olivier
1907 Labour and the Empire, an essay by
Preface to John Bull’s Other Island by George Bernard Shaw
Rudyard Kipling wins Nobel Prize for Literature.
1908 African Life and Customs, an essay by Edward Wilmot Blyden argued
that communalism was well-adapted to tropical conditions.
1910 Act of Union in South Africa.
1911 Coronation Durbar (India).
1909 Morley-Minto reforms (India).
India. Impressions and Suggestions, an essay by Keir Hardie
1911 The Agadir crisis brought the European powers to the brink of war.
Ethiopia Unbound, an essay by J.E. Casely Haylford (1866-1930).
1911-15 The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazier (1854-1941)
published in 12 volumes.
1912 Southern African Natives National Congress founded.
1913 Beatrice & Sidney Webb "The Guardianship of the Non-adult Races ”, article
published in New Statesman and Nation after round world trip
Native Life in South
Africa, Before and Since the European War and the Boer Rebellion, by
Soloman Tshekisho Plaatje (1876-1932)
The Awakening of India, an essay by
Rabindranath Tagore wins Nobel prize for Literature
1916 Easter Rising.
School of Oriental and African Studies founded in London University.
the Highest Stage of Capitalism", an essay by Lenin (1870-1924)
1917 Imperial War Cabinet established.
The Balfour declaration promises the Jews a national home in
"The End of General
Gordon", one of four essays in Eminent Victorians by Lytton Strachey
1918 Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points"
1919 Montagu-Chelmsford reforms.
The Government of India, an essay by
1920 Government of Ireland Act. 1919-23 period of Anglo-Irish "troubles".
Empire and Commerce in Africa, an essay by Leonard Woolf
1922 Chanak crisis.
The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa, an essay in
government by Lord Lugard (1858-1945)
1924 A Passage to India, a novel by E.M. Forster (1879-1970).
1926 Imperial Conference
1927 The Empire Builder, a novel by Sydney Olivier written in 1905, is
1927-9 An Autobiography, or The Story of My Experiments with Truth by
M.K. Gandhi (1869-1948)
1928 Imperialism and Civilisation, an essay by Leonard Woolf.
1929 Separate Secretary of State for the Dominions established.
White Capital and Coloured Labour, an essay by Sydney Olivier, is
issued in a second edition.
The Strategic Importance of the Colonies, an essay by Joseph
White Man’s Country : Lord Delamere and the Making of Kenya, an
essay by Elspeth Huxley (1907-1997).
1930-33 Round Table Conferences on India.
1931 The Statute of Westminster enacted decisions of the 1926 Imperial
The League of Coloured People founded by Dr. Harold Moody
1932 Imperial Economic Conference in Ottawa gave limited preferential tariffs
to Commonwealth countries.
1935 India Act.
Haile Selassie made an impassioned plea for the League of Nations to
take action against the Italian invasion of Abyssinia
1936 foundation of the Left Book Club (>1948)
The League and Abyssinia, an essay by Leonard Woolf.
How Britain Rules Africa and Africa and World Peace, two
essays by George Padmore
Out of Africa, an autobiographical account by Karen Blixen
1937 Peel Commission (on Palestine).
1938 Publication of Lord Hailey's African Survey
Revised edition of Imperialism : a Study by J.A. Hobson.
The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James (1901-89).
1940 Lahore resolution.
1939 Economic Survey by Arthur Lewis (1915- )
Conditions of Economic Growth by Colin Clark (1905-89)
Empire or Democracy by Leonard Barnes
1941 Atlantic Charter §3 asserted "the right of all peoples to choose the
form of government under which they will live"
1942 Fall of Singapore.
Cripps Mission (to India).
Plan for Africa, an early essay in development economics by Rita
1943 Bengal Famine.
1945 Colonial Development and Welfare Act.
1947 Independence and Partition of Indian Empire.
The Remarkable Expedition. The Story of Stanley's Rescue of Emin
Pasha from Equatorial Africa, an historical account by Olivia Manning
1948 arrival of H.M.S. Windrush
Cry, the Beloved Country, a novel by Alan Paton (1903-1988)
1949 Ireland withdraws from the Commonwealth. India becomes the first
republic to join it.
Empire and After. A Study of British Imperial Attitudes, an
overview of British imperialism by Rita Hinden
The Grass is Singing, first novel by
1951 Nationalisation of Anglo-Iranian Oil.
1956 Suez Crisis.
1957 Independence of the Gold Coast (as Ghana).
1958 Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1930- )
1959 First carnival in Britain, organized by Claudia Jones
1960 "Wind of Change" speech in the South African parliament, by Harold
1962 Commonwealth Immigants' Act.
1963 Beyond a Boundary by C.L.R. James
1964 Commonwealth Secretariat established.
1968 Enoch Powell makes the "Rivers of Blood" speech.
Industry & Empire, an historical account by E.J. Hobsbawm.
No End of a Lesson, a political memoir about the Suez crisis, by
First of the Pax Britannica trilogy, a lively and irreverent
historical account of the British Empire by James (now Jan) Morris.
1972 UK joins EEC.
In the Ditch, first novel by
Patrick White wins Nobel Prize for Literature
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, an historical account by Walter
1973 The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy by Edward Kamau Brathwaite
1978 Dub poetry is launched, with the issue in record form of
Johnson's poems Dread, Beat, an' Blood
1979 The Dragon Can't Dance, third novel by
1980 Midnight's Children, a novel by Salman Rushdie (1947- )
1982 Falklands War (May-June)
1983 i is a long-memoried woman, first collection of poems by
Ravinder Randhawa founds the Asian Women Writers Collective
Slave Song, first collection of poems by
1985 Cameroonian artist Werewere Liking (1950- ) founded the
Village Ki-Yi M'Bock in Abijan.
Mangoes and Bullets, selected poems by
Mama Dot, first collection of poems by
Journey to Jo'burg, a novel for children by
Soyinka wins Nobel Prize for Literature
1987 Memory of Departure, first novel by
In Other Worlds, a critical essay by Gayatri Spivak
Mahfouz wins Nobel Prize for Literature
Ryddim Ravings, first collection of poems by
1989 Fall of Berlin Wall marks end of Cold War.
Sudha Bhuchar co-founded Tamasha Theatre Company, with Kristine Landon-Smith.
Hinterland, an anthology of Caribbean poets, edited by
The Empire Writes Back, collection of critical essays by Bill
Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, Helen Tiffin
1990-91 First Gulf War.
Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia
Gordimer wins Nobel Prize for Literature
Jack Mapanje is released after four years' imprisonment without trail in
wins Booker Prize for The Famished Road
A Strange and Sublime Address, first collection of short stories
by Amit Chaudhuri
Such a Long Journey, first novel by
1992 After the publication of Omeros,
Walcott (1930- ) won the Nobel prize for Literature.
1993 Culture and Imperialism, a critical essay by Edward Said
The Country at my Shoulder, acclaimed poetry collection by
Anita Desai's novel
In Custody (1983) is made into a film.
The Black Atlantic, essay by Paul Gilroy
1994 Reef, first novel by
The Location of Culture, critical essay by Homi Bhabha
Black Album by Hanif Kureishi
R.A.W., first poetry collection by performance poet
Red Earth and Pouring Rain, first novel by
1996 Some Kind of Black, first novel by
Propa Propaganda, collection of verse by
1997 Lara, first novel-in-verse by
Khalvati founds the Poetry School
Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country, autobiographical
account of a South African childhood, by
1999 A Sin of Colour, fourth novel by
The Map of Love, second novel by
2000 White Teeth, first novel by
Naipaul wins Nobel Prize for Literature
2002 The Clash of Fundamentalisms, an essay by
editor of New Left Review
Waiting for an Angel, first novel by
2003 Second Gulf War.
J.M. Coetzee wins Nobel Prize for Literature
Brick Lane, first novel by
2004 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Kenyan activist
Wangari Maathai (1940-
The history pages of the site
Black Presence in
100 Great Black Britons
Brighton & Hove Black