Jude and Diana

By Sharon Robart-Johnson  

The only mention of sisters Jude and Diana in Nova Scotia’s official history relates to their deaths: a slave-owning family was brought to trial for murder in 1801. They were acquitted. Sharon Robart-Johnson honours these archival glimpses of enslaved people by re-creating the fullness of Jude and Diana’s lives. Through Robart-Johnson’s meticulous research, we experience eighteenth-century Yarmouth and Shelburne, where political debates about abolishing slavery were only just beginning to emerge. Through Robart-Johnson’s creativity, we encounter Jude, a rebellious, endearing young woman whose fierce love of family connects us to her sweet, intelligent sister, Diana. Their stories may be hard to read for some, but despite the cruelty they endured, their humour, strength, and dignity shine brightly. Robart-Johnson’s project to reveal the brutality experienced by enslaved Black people in Canada is crucial. More than two hundred years later, this story rings uncannily true; in 2020, murderers of Black people are still brought to court and acquitted. May Jude and Diana’s lives contribute to the coming transformation.

This book contains scenes of racialized physical, sexual, and emotional violence.

This is a story of Jude whose strong will and unyielding spirit resisted the cruel bonds of slavery in Nova Scotia where she hoped to find freedom and, instead, found her place in history.

— Rosemarie Nervelle

Roseway Publishing

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Contents

  • Prologue
  • Part 1: Jude Remembers
  • Part 2: The Murder Trial
  • Part 3: Diana Remembers
  • Epilogue: Mary Elizabeth

Authors

  • Sharon Robart-Johnson

    Sharon Robart-Johnson was born in the South End of Yarmouth; she is a thirteenth-generation Nova Scotian. Her roots reach back to the Expulsion of the Acadians in 1755, to the arrival of the Black Loyalists in Shelburne in 1783, and to an enslaved person brought to Digby County in 1798. In 2009 she published her first book, Africa’s Children: A History of Blacks in Yarmouth. Her years of archival experience and passion for researching Black history have most recently culminated in historical fiction, a way to honour those omitted from colonial archives.

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