[Vwoolf] Nigs, nicknames, & racial slurs

Linda Camarasana lcamarasana at gmail.com
Sat Feb 9 14:48:30 EST 2019


Are you familiar with this book, *Our Nig* by Harriet E. Wilson?



*Linda Camarasana*
*Associate Professor and Department Chair, English*
*Director, Women's Center*
*SUNY College at Old Westbury*
*Old Westbury, NY 11568*
*camarasanal at oldwestbury.edu <camarasanal at oldwestbury.edu>*

On Sat, Feb 9, 2019 at 11:35 AM Anne Fernald via Vwoolf <
vwoolf at lists.osu.edu> wrote:

> 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.
> <http://www.oed.com.avoserv2.library.fordham.edu/view/Entry/126934#eid34821604>
>    (in various senses).
> *c*1832   T. D. Rice *Jim Crow* x   De Nigs in ole Virginny Be so black
> dey shine.
> 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.
> Anne
> 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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>> ------------------------------
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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
> 718-817-3034
> Lincoln Center: Martino Hall 422
> 212-636-7613
> Spring 2019 Office Hours: T/F 9:15-11:00 at Lincoln Center & by appt.
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