Parker, E (2020) An Island of Whiteness: Rereading Penelope Lively’s Oleander, Jacaranda (1994). Wasafiri, 35 (3). 10 - 16. ISSN 0269-0055

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This article rereads Penelope Lively's first memoir Oleander, Jacaranda (1994) as not only witnessing the end of British colonial rule, but also revealing how life in England – and more widely Britain – elides and conceals the impact of Empire. Lively's childhood in Egypt is described as a lonely one, yet the private, often confined world of Oleander, Jacaranda offers glimpses of life on an island of whiteness, creating a first-hand account of how Lively's English household was marooned within its Egyptian surroundings. It repeatedly draws our attention to the subterranean, partially obscured experiences of a wealthy white colonial childhood, asking us to imagine what worlds and realities are excluded from a surface-level view of drawing rooms, verandahs and garden parties. Yet, just as importantly, Lively indicates how these formative years underwrite her later experiences on another, significantly larger island. Returning to Oleander, Jacaranda at a time when British society remains incapable of fully addressing its colonial past, reveals a challenging, probing account of how we remember and understand the legacies of Empire in twenty-first-century Britain.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final version of this accepted manuscript and all relevant information related to it, including copyrights, can be found online at;
Subjects: A General Works > AC Collections. Series. Collected works
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z004 Books. Writing. Paleography
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2021 08:43
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2022 01:30

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