Most of the eighteenth-century Lunar Men were staunch opponents of the slave trade and several made important contributions to the abolition campaign that gripped the nation in the 1780s and 90s. Joseph Priestly wrote an antislavery pamphlet while Josiah Wedgwood’s potteries produced the famous ‘Am I Not a Man and a Brother’ medallion that became the emblem of the international antislavery movement. Two Lunar Men used the medium of poetry to protest against slavery. In his 1773 The Dying Negro, Thomas Day alerted the public to the scandal of enslaved people being illegally forced out of the country. Almost two decades later, Erasmus Darwin included a heartfelt passage in The Botanic Garden to show how in his friend Wedgwood’s hands, the potter’s art could become a political statement. In this illustrated talk, Professor Brycchan Carey will discuss the surprising stories behind these poems and show how they made a major contribution to the abolition of the slave trade.

Brycchan Carey is Professor of English at Northumbria University and the author of numerous books and articles on the eighteenth-century slave trade and its abolition. He is currently President of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Erasmus Darwin House

Beacon Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS13 7AD

01543 306260


Opening times

Museum Opening Hours

30 Oct 2021 to 26 March 2022 - Thursday to Monday 11am to 4pm - last entry 3.15pm.

27 March 2022 to 29 Oct 2022 - Monday to Sunday 11am to 5pm - last entry 4.15pm

The herb garden is open all year with free access - please observe social distancing in our small garden

Please visit for full information.

We have decided to maintain social distancing and other mitigation measures, including reduced capacity and a one way system in the museum until otherwise announced, in accordance with industry best practice.

We recommend that visitors wear a face covering whilst in the museum.

To ensure the financial stability of this independent museum it has been necessary for us to introduce an admission charge.

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