Autoethnography in Post-British Literatures: A Comparative Reading of Charlotte Williams and Jackie Kay

  • Lisa Sheppard
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Life Writing book series (PSLW)


This chapter uses the notion of autoethnography to examine how the authors Charlotte Williams and Jackie Kay explore the complex nature of identity in a post-British and post-imperial society. Williams’s memoir (Sugar and Slate, Planet, Aberystwyth, 2002), is a hybrid text comprised of prose, poetry and letters, and portrays Williams’s experiences as a mixed-race woman during periods of her life spent in Wales, Guyana, Nigeria and Sudan. Kay’s (Red Dust Road, Picador, London, 2010) uses memoir, letters and diaries to chronicle her search for her Nigerian biological father, her upbringing by her white Scottish adoptive parents in Glasgow and her relationship with her biological mother, who was originally from the Scottish Highlands. By drawing upon Deborah Reed-Danahay’s definition of autoethnography as a text that locates ‘the self in a social context’, this chapter argues that Williams’s and Kay’s incorporation of various textual forms in their work is not only representative of their own hybrid identities, but also creates a space for imagining Welsh and Scottish identities in ways which are inclusive of the many diverse cultures that exist within these nations. In comparing the contemporary literature of these countries, too, the chapter hopes to contribute to the ongoing cross-cultural re-evaluation of identity in the British Isles.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Sheppard
    • 1
  1. 1.Cardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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