Portrait photo of Brooke Newman
Brooke Newman, Ph.D., an associate professor of history at VCU, is a historian of early modern Britain and the British Atlantic. (Contributed photo)

VCU history professor receives prestigious MacDowell fellowship

During her residency, Brooke Newman will work on her forthcoming book on the historical links between the British monarchy and slavery.

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Brooke Newman, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of History in the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Humanities and Sciences, has been named one of 142 recipients of MacDowell fellowships for 2023.

MacDowell is one of the nation’s leading artist residency programs. Its mission is to nurture the arts by offering talented individuals an inspiring residential environment in which to produce enduring works of the creative imagination.

During her two-week residency, Newman will work on her forthcoming book “The Queen’s Silence: The Hidden History of the British Monarchy and Slavery,” which will show how the British monarchs and prominent members of the royal family invested in, expanded and defended the transatlantic slave trade and African bondage for nearly three centuries. A hybrid work of groundbreaking original research and narrative synthesis, “The Queen’s Silence” will be the definitive chronicle of the British Crown’s connections to the rise and fall of African enslavement in the Americas.

“I’m honored to receive a fellowship from MacDowell to work exclusively on ‘The Queen's Silence,’ a narrative nonfiction book focused on the historical links between the British monarchy and slavery,” Newman said. “MacDowell is known for hosting a wide array of talented artists from around the world, and I look forward to joining a vibrant international community of fellows while in residence – including architects, composers, filmmakers, visual artists, writers and poets, and more.”

Newman was featured in a Sky News documentary about the British monarchy’s ties to slavery last summer, and she provided expert commentary to news outlets around the world following Queen Elizabeth II’s death in September. Most recently, she was interviewed on the podcast Surviving Society for the launch of their new series, “The Global Power of the British Monarchy.”

A historian of early modern Britain and the British Atlantic, Newman also is author of the 2018 book “A Dark Inheritance: Blood, Race, and Sex in Colonial Jamaica,” which received the Gold Medal for World History in the 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards and was a finalist for the 2019 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, and co-editor of the 2014 book “Native Diasporas: Indigenous Identities and Settler Colonialism in the Americas.”

Newman and the other MacDowell fellows were selected from 1,822 applications from 54 different countries. Applications for fellowships are reviewed by a panel of professionals in each discipline. The panelists make their selections based on applicants’ vision and talent as reflected by a work sample and project description.