[Vwoolf] Nigs, nicknames, & racial slurs

Anne Fernald fernald at fordham.edu
Sat Feb 9 11:35:11 EST 2019

When Stuart first sent this email, the subject line made me gasp. It was
too close to the racial slur. Which made me wonder: might Lord Cecil's
nickname be connected to the racial slur? Given the frequency of references
to "n*** brown" as a descriptor of clothing in the teens, twenties, and
thirties, I think it might. I looked in the OED, and yes, "nig" is short
for the racial slur:
nig, n.3
*colloq.* and *regional* (usually *derogatory* and *offensive*).
Thesaurus »
Categories »

  = nigger n.
   (in various senses).
*c*1832   T. D. Rice *Jim Crow* x   De Nigs in ole Virginny Be so black dey
1840   *Daily Picayune (New Orleans) *20 Sept. 2/2   Two little nigs..had a
most scientific set-to at the corner.
1860   R. F. Burton *Lake Regions Central Afr.* I. 137   He resents..the
name of ‘Nigger’, or ‘Nig’—Jupiter Tonans has heard of the offensive
dissyllable..but has he heard of the more offensive monosyllable which was
forced upon the abbreviating Anglo-Saxon by the fatal necessity of
requiring to repeat the word so frequently?
1879   Mrs. A. G. F. E. James *Indian Househ. Managem.* 43   Treat your
servants as fellow-creatures, not as ‘nigs’—a term too often applied..to
the Indian natives.
1916   J. B. Cooper *Coo-oo-ee* xvi. 245   He never wipes the glass
slobbered over by dozens of dirty nigs!

As to why Lord Cecil might have that nickname, short of consulting the full
bio, I can only conjecture. Was he darker complected than his family
members? Was it because of his colonial work in Egypt? Or, like lots of
nicknames, did it come from some more obscure bit of personal history.

In any case, watching this conversation unfold simultaneously with some
pretty sorry racial incidents of blackface here in the U.S. and it struck
me that it would be disingenuous to pretend that Lord Cecil's nickname,
Nigs, was unconnected to the history of racism.


On Wed, Feb 6, 2019 at 3:57 PM Peter D L Stansky via Vwoolf <
vwoolf at lists.osu.edu> wrote:

> Thanks Stuart for the mention of the Rudikoff book as I was involved with
> its publication.  It was published by SPOSS, the Society for the Promotion
> of Science and Scholarship and copies should still be available on Amazon
> at very low prices. SPOSS also published my *William Morris to Sergeant
> Pepper *which contains a section on Bloomsbury.
> Best to all, Peter
> Sent from Mail
> <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__go.microsoft.com_fwlink_-3FLinkId-3D550986&d=DwMF-g&c=aqMfXOEvEJQh2iQMCb7Wy8l0sPnURkcqADc2guUW8IM&r=k1OoytuRmrU4MiIwbI-7ElFohPGR5Vr0JxDyMjG9DsI&m=qyC0djSWGOis3bIRcrZ5AQTDuN0kuzUn86jxKSbvXVU&s=DJrvzvPLqyfbMbrWGziL0rk5IoMKxV2bnOHKyBcHc2s&e=>
> for Windows 10
> ------------------------------
> *From:* Vwoolf <vwoolf-bounces+stansky=stanford.edu at lists.osu.edu> on
> behalf of Stuart N. Clarke via Vwoolf <vwoolf at lists.osu.edu>
> *Sent:* Wednesday, February 6, 2019 1:03:27 AM
> *To:* Barbara Lounsberry
> *Cc:* vwoolf at lists.osu.edu
> *Subject:* Re: [Vwoolf] Nigs
> Ref. to Lord Edward Cecil, L1 189.  For anything to do with the
> aristocracy & VW, it’s worth starting with a rarely referenced, but
> excellent book, RUDIKOFF, Sonya, "Ancestral Houses: Virginia Woolf and the
> Aristocracy" (1999).
> Stuart
> *From:* Stuart N. Clarke via Vwoolf
> *Sent:* Tuesday, February 5, 2019 4:24 PM
> *To:* Barbara Lounsberry
> *Cc:* vwoolf at lists.osu.edu
> *Subject:* Re: [Vwoolf] Nigs
> Making the grenadier connection is even more persuasive.  I think we might
> be able to search VW’s connections to the Cecils to find how close (as it
> were) she ever got to Lord Edward. Kitty Maxse’s husband Leo was a brother
> of Lady Violet, Lord Edward’s wife.
> Stuart (whose mother was born in Lasswade)
> *From:* Barbara Lounsberry
> *Sent:* Tuesday, February 5, 2019 4:14 PM
> *To:* Stuart N. Clarke
> *Cc:* vwoolf at lists.osu.edu
> *Subject:* Re: [Vwoolf] Nigs
> Stuart:
> Thank you for your illuminating (and, to me, very persuasive) information
> on Lord Edward Cecil and Edward Pargiter of *The Years*.
> Your reference to Lord Cecil and the Grenadier Guards makes me wish to add
> that I believe Woolf associated Kitty Malone in *The Years *with Sir
> Walter Scott (Woolf's own diary "father").  Kitty's married name is
> Lasswade (name of Scott's home) and she much prefers the north over
> Oxford and London.  Kitty is call "The Grenadier."  In the British Army, a
> grenadier was a member of the first regiment of household infantry.
> Grenadiers were specially selected foot soldiers in elite units who threw
> grenades.  Thus Woolf links Kitty to both Scott and to female household
> battle.
> Hope this adds.  No doubt you can add more to this.
> Barbara Lounsberry
> On Tue, Feb 5, 2019 at 4:31 AM Stuart N. Clarke via Vwoolf <
> vwoolf at lists.osu.edu> wrote:
>> You will recall that that’s Eleanor’s nickname for Edward Pargiter in
>> “The Years” (mentioned 4 times).  Apparently, that was VWS and HN’s name
>> for Nigel (see CUP edn 420 39:13).  But why should that be a nickname for
>> *Edward*?
>> I’ve found a more persuasive inspiration for the nickname.  The family
>> called Lord Edward Cecil, Nigs, although I don’t know why.  Perhaps if I
>> looked up a biography, I would find out.  Anyway, see here from the ODNB:
>> *Cecil, Lord Edward Herbert Gascoyne-* (1867–1918), army officer and
>> administrator, was born in London on 12 July 1867, the fourth son and
>> sixth of eight children of Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, third
>> marquess of Salisbury (1830–1903)
>> <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.oxforddnb.com_documentId_odnb-2D9780198614128-2De-2D32339&d=DwMF-g&c=aqMfXOEvEJQh2iQMCb7Wy8l0sPnURkcqADc2guUW8IM&r=k1OoytuRmrU4MiIwbI-7ElFohPGR5Vr0JxDyMjG9DsI&m=qyC0djSWGOis3bIRcrZ5AQTDuN0kuzUn86jxKSbvXVU&s=_Dm347sgnWdyczaPMUmROSSnrAT212c-y14fJSB-GsM&e=>,
>> prime minister, and his wife, Georgina Caroline (1827–1899), daughter of Sir
>> Edward Hall Alderson and his wife, Georgina Drewe. Known to his family
>> as Nigs, and to friends as Ned, Edward Cecil was educated privately and
>> at Eton College, and was commissioned in the Grenadier Guards in 1887.
>> Stuart
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Anne E. Fernald <http://www.fordham.edu/info/24101/anne_fernald> (she/her)
Professor of English and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Special Advisor to the Provost for Faculty Development
fernald at fordham.edu

Rose Hill: Cunniffe 211

Lincoln Center: Martino Hall 422

Spring 2019 Office Hours: T/F 9:15-11:00 at Lincoln Center & by appt.
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