In Daniel L. Schafer’s book Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley: African Princess, Florida Slave, Plantation Slaveowner, the life of a somewhat mysterious African born woman is broken down. There were many challenges to writing a biography on a woman who did not write any letters nor kept a diary on the events of her life. This and the fact that she was an African slave in the beginning of her life over in Florida made writing such a biography all the more challenging. I feel that Schafer has succeeded in providing an organized and descriptive piece on a historical figure whose background has very much been shrouded in mystery and uncertainty. The book stays true to the thesis and keeps Anna Madgigine Jai at the center of every topic. In the preface of this biography, Schafer makes his thesis very clear. He wants to write a “lively and imaginative yet scholarly” account of Anna Kingsley’s life that will appeal to a wide audience. He wants the reader to know the life of Anna and tries not to have her husband Zephaniah’s life accounts overpower hers. He begins by addressing the claims over in Florida that Anna was royalty in Africa. The claims of her being royalty can best be described as a legend that started to get passed around through word of mouth. There are no official documents stating if she was definitely royalty or not; also due to the fact that she was purchased as a slave by Zephaniah Kingsley, no documents of her family tree were recorded. However, Schafer did his best to find some truth in the legend. He relies on a local historian by the name of Abdou Cisse and also elders in the village of Yang Yang to explain the situations going on in the area around the time of Anna’s captivation to draw judgment on what her social status was in Africa. Their accounts both mention how Anna’s father was in competition for the throne but failed in the end, and Abdou Cisse mentions that the family would not want it to be known that Anna was a slave...
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