The Texts
C. L. R. James wrote Th e Life of Captain Cipriani: An Account of British
Government in the West Indies almost certainly between 1929 and 1931 in
Trinidad. When he left for En gland in February 1932, the manuscript
had been completed— one of three manuscripts he took with him, the
others being his only novel, Minty Alley, and much of what would sub-
sequently become Cricket and I by Learie Constantine, a book largely
written by James.
In Nelson, Lancashire, where Constantine and his family had lived for
a few years, the book was privately printed by a small local fi rm, Coulton
& Co., in the middle of 1932. Constantine provided the funds, and James
and some new friends in Nelson made up parcels of the printed book to
send off to Trinidad and other places in the West Indies and to radical
booksellers in London and other British cities. Th e book comprised 107
pages and was dedicated to Constantine. It sold for one shilling and six
pence in Trinidad.
Its circulation in Britain was presumably quite limited, but Leonard
Woolf, co- owner with his famous wife, Virginia, of the progressive
Hogarth Press, heard about it. He asked James to abridge the book
drastically, cutting out nearly all of the biographical sections related to
Cipriani and concentrating on the general attack on crown colony gov-
ernment. Th e abridgement was done in Nelson, James wrote de cades
later, and he “travelled up and down from Nelson to London to make
all the arrangements for the publication.” Th e result was a thirty- two-
page pamphlet, entitled Th e Case for West- Indian Self Government, issued
by the Hogarth Press, London, in 1933. It was number 16 in the series
Day to Day Pamphlets— previous pamphlets had been authored by
Bridget Brereton
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