Runaway Slaves in Britain: bondage, freedom and race in the eighteenth century

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Freedom Bound: the graphic novel

This ambitious 145 page graphic biography follows the interconnected stories of three enslaved people living in 1700s Scotland before Scots Law proved slavery illegal, including Joseph Knight, the man who brought the case against his master which led to Scots law proving slavery illegal. From mountainous countryside to inner cities, Freedom Bound explores Scotland's unsettling history of slavery and the injustices perpetrated throughout the decades.

Simon Newman who was behind the Runaway Slaves in Britain project at Glasgow University approached me after I gave a talk about my work on the graphic novel Incognegro, originally published by DC Vertigo and written by Mat Johnson. I’ve always been drawn to projects that have an edge and have often worked with other writers who have a wealth of experience in the subjects they’re tackling. Though I have worked on political material before and drawn and written period pieces, Freedom Bound has been a unique experience, not just for me, but for all the team involved.

- Warren Pleece

Freedom Bound was created in conjunction with the University of Glasgow with the purpose of educating Scottish young people about the history of slavery in the country. A class set of Freedom Bound will be delivered to every Scottish state secondary school and can supplement educational plans and classes on the Atlantic Slave Trade, broadening understanding of Scotland's uncomfortable connections with slavery. The Runaway Slaves in Eighteenth-century Britain project at the University of Glasgow has been supported by the Leverhulme Trust, an Impact Acceleration Award from the Economic and Social Research Council and a grant from the College of Arts of the University of Glasgow.

We're very excited about Freedom Bound going into schools as a supplementary teaching tool. An image on the page can really bring home an emotional moment, or completely communicate a context or place previously unknown to the reader, whereas the text adds nuance and insight as the storyline demands. Simon, Warren and I ran workshops in Glasgow and London to test elements of the story with pupils. We received really valuable feedback and are very grateful to the teachers and that accommodated us – Jenna Irvine (Lourdes Secondary School, Glasgow) and Lucy Capes (BSix Sixth Form College, London).

- Nelson Mundell

This graphic history will be sent to every local authority school in Scotland for free to allow every third year class the opportunity to read and study the book and gain an insight into Scotland's history. Freedom Bound also feature's extra resources to allow students to take their interest further and to assist teachers in lesson planning.This includes books for further reading, copies of runaway slave advertisements and excerpts from research offering further historical context for Freedom Bound. The books will be dispatched to schools in Scotland, including small and far flung highlands and islands schools, by the beginning of September.

Click here for Freedom Bound teaching materials.

BHP aim to enrich the learning experiences of young people in Scotland by offering this engaging and factual graphic biography following three real people who were enslaved in Scotland, Ann, Jamie Montgomery and Joseph Knight. From historic records, Professor Simon P. Newman and Nelson Mundell of the University of Glasgow have researched the lives of people enslaved in Scotland and from this research Warren Pleece as constructed the narrative basis of Freedom Bound.

Graphic narrative is able to engage young readers in ways in which traditional prose cannot, offering both visual and text cues to the learner. Freedom Bound will use this to help bring readers into the historic period and engage them in important political and historical study which will massively benefit their learning. This has been a very ambitious and long-term collaboration between BHP Comics, the University of Glasgow and writer and artist Warren Pleece but we know the benefits that this book will bring to many generations of Scottish students will be a fantastic reward.

- Sha Nazir, BHP's Director

I hope readers will engage with the stories of Ann, Jamie and Joseph and realise their tales, like so many others are just as relevant to us today. In a time of increased intolerance and suspicion, we need a greater understanding about our own past to comprehend our present and possible futures.

- Warren Pleece

Freedom Bound is available to pre-order at

About BHP Comics

BHP Comics is Scotland's only independent graphic novel publisher. Founded in 2011 as a creators cooperative under the publishing banner Black Hearted Press, BHP began by making experimental self-published works before developing into a socially conscious publishing company in 2014 and rebranding as BHP Comics. BHP also produce comic book events across the country including workshops, talks, exhibitions as well as the critically acclaimed and popular comic book festival – Glasgow Comic Con (est 2011) and ECAF - Edinburgh Comic Art Festival (est 2016).

About Warren Pleece

Warren Pleece is a UK based comics illustrator with over twenty years of experience. He has worked for DC Comics, Vertigo, 2000AD and many more throughout his career, creating both comics and graphic novels. Pleece engages with a range of genres in his work but has a passion for historical fiction.

'York', Liverpool General Advertiser, or the Commercial Register,
2nd September 1768
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