There Once was a Little Englandadmin
by Enrico Downer (author)
In colonial Barbados, in the 1950s, in a stratified society of whites, blacks and half-whites, a village boy is shot and killed as he trespasses innocently on the private property of his English landlord, The Englishman claims in Her Majesty’s Court that he mistook the boy for a monkey. The people are stung by the dehumanizing words, particularly from the lips of a white man. They are then further enraged when one of their own, a black barrister steps forward to defend the Englishman.
The story takes place at a time when Barbados was said to be “vitiated by colour and class prejudice”.
Later, as the lawyer decides to enter the island’s political arena, he is faced with a dilemma: he needs the vote of the majority, the working-class. But he has already cast his lot with the island’s white and powerful minority. He needs the support of his own people in order to succeed.
In different ways, the tragedy impacts the lives of the dead boy’s parents, a God-fearing mother who leans on her Christian faith and an angry and grieving father, haunted by the insinuation that his beloved son has been analogized to a member of the lower species. He is determined to avenge the killing somehow.
With bated breath the whole island awaits the day of the trial for their sense of justice to be vindicated. They expect no less a sentence than death for the Englishman. His life is in the hands of a skillful black lawyer.