Title: Girl Prince, The: Virginia Woolf, Race & the Dreadnought Hoax
Author: JONES DANELL
Publication date: 01/02/2024
Imprint: HURST PUBLISHERS
Publishing status: Active
In February 1910, the young woman who would become Virginia Woolf played the most famous practical joke in British military history. Blackening her face and masquerading as an African prince, with friends she conned her way onto the Dreadnought, the Empire’s best battleship. The stunt made headlines around the world for weeks, embarrassed the Royal Navy, and provoked heated discussions in parliament. But who was the ‘girl prince’ unidentified in public debate at the time, and what was she doing there?
The Girl Prince intertwines three fascinating stories: a scandalous prank and its afterlife; Woolf’s ideas about race and empire; and the true Black experience in Britain, from real princes to Caribbean writers and South African activists. Woolf’s social circle was almost exclusively white, but Black lives edged and echoed hers within the rich fabric of national culture, including in response to the hoax. Using letters, diaries, reporting and newly discovered archives, Danell Jones describes an extraordinary chain of events, exploring how and why this future revolutionary novelist joined in a bigoted blackface prank, and probing what it tells us – about Woolf’s Britain and Woolf’s work.
This is a tantalisingly fresh take on an iconic writer and her deeply problematic stunt.
Review: ‘Jones introduces many of the extraordinary Black individuals’ resident in the U.K. at the time, including in Woolf’s Bloomsbury, some of whom would go on to play crucial roles in the dismantling of Empire (arguably still ongoing).’ — The New York Journal Review of Books
‘A fascinating, unnerving, and enlightening perspective on a transformative writer and the society that forged her sensibility, radical creativity, and despair.’ — Booklist
‘Deeply researched and marvellously written, this is the book about Bloomsbury and the Dreadnought Hoax that we’ve been waiting for. Jones gives an essential racial and historical context for the event and its aftermath, which continues to this day.’ — Gretchen Gerzina, author of ‘Black England: A Forgotten Georgian History’
‘An enlightening and insightful book that keeps you reading.’ — Remi Adekoya, author of ‘Biracial Britain’
‘An enthralling book. Danell Jones at last provides the nuanced context and deep historical research so often lacking in commentary on this infamous incident.’ — Mark Hussey, author of ‘Virginia Woolf A-Z’ and ‘Clive Bell and the Making of Modernism’
Author Biography: Danell Jones is a writer and scholar with a PhD in literature from Columbia University. She is the author of The Virginia Woolf Writers’ Workshop; the poetry collection ‘Desert Elegy’; and ‘An African in Imperial London’ (also published by Hurst), which won the High Plains Book Award for Nonfiction.
Dimension: 234mm X 156mm