I’m handing the microphone over to one of my graduate students today. Margot Maddison-MacFadyen is a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary PhD program here at MUN and she’s been working on The History of Mary Prince, the first black woman to escape from slavery and to publish her story (a story produced in collaboration with Susanna Strickland – later Susanna Moodie of Roughing it in the Bush fame – and Thomas Pringle, both of whom worked for the Anti-Slavery Society in the UK).
Margot’s interests stem from her time living on the Turks and Caicos Islands and she’s already done some fabulous work situating Mary Prince not just as a literary figure (which she’s been since Moira Ferguson resurrected the History in the late 1980s) but also as an historical figure. Margot’s passion is also driven by her discovery that many children on the Turks and Caicos Islands had no idea who Mary Prince was, even though her story was so evocative that the History appeared in three editions within the first year of its publication (and was contested in court), and even though the Islands’ slaving past is literally carved into the landscape: the vestiges of the salt ponds and the slave quarters still remain today, physical scars of a painful and troubled history.
Margot is also an active “creative” writer, whose writing extends through creative non-fiction and into stories and poems.
It’s this mix of interests, passions, activities and writing that comes together in a piece that Margot wrote for the Newfoundland Quarterly in 2011. “Looking for Annie Saint” describes Margot’s journey in search of her great-great grandmother.
“”Listen,” said Aunt Sue,” this piece begins.
“”Someone’s got to go to Newfoundland and find Annie before it’s too late.” Someone turned out to be me, accompanied by my husband Gary, who is always up for an adventure, and that’s how we two mainlanders, me a British Columbian and Gary a New Brunswicker, wound up traipsing through the cemeteries of Bonavista in the summer of 2007. Although we never found Annie’s grave, we found much, much more. We found my family.”