Knight v. Wedderburn: “Enough of Him”

The Scottish case of Knight v. Wedderburn (1778) has in recent years gained some publicity. It is discussed in the Oxford Companion to Black British History (2007), while Joseph Knight has gained an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Of course, legal records are fascinating, but do not tell us all. It is an obvious deduction that there was much at stake emotionally in the litigation, as in the English case of Somerset v. Stewart. Enough detail is known, however, to allow for plausible imaginative recreations. Thus, James Robertson published his novel Joseph Knight in 2003, winning a Saltire Award.

A play by May Sumbwanyambe, based on the Knight story, premiered recently at the Pitlochry Theatre, before starting a tour with the National Theatre of Scotland. It is entitled “Enough of Him”. Excellently staged and directed, it focuses on the emotional connections and struggles of the main characters. It is ultimately very moving. The review in The Times on 24 October rightly described it as “[p]oignant and powerful”. The play is currently touring Scotland. The text is available, published by Methuen in its Drama series.