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A Pamphlet War: Colonialism versus Radical Nationalism in the Ionian Islands, 1848-1864

Helena Drysdale

Published In:
Published Date:

January 2023


Ionian Islands, George Bowen, Greece, Protectorate, Pamphleteering, Imperialism


In the early 1850s the vice chancellor of the Ionian University wrote a pamphlet supporting British colonial rule in the Ionian Islands, a British protectorate. He soon found himself embroiled in a vitriolic pamphlet war with an Ionian radical. This paper contextualises and scrutinises their pamphlets, producing a nuanced reading that augments our understanding of some of the tensions between mid-nineteenth-century British imperialism and Hellenic radical nationalism. It asks what can be added to current debates by elucidating the motivations and historical contingencies of certain individuals and their articulation of colonial subjectivities and power dynamics. It shows that the networks that formed the British world-system often depended on the principal protagonists and their overlapping interests, egos, alliances and antipathies and ways in which they expressed themselves in the press. It argues that a critical reading of their publications and personal histories complicates conventional narratives of ‘oppressive coloniser’ versus 'radical nationalist’ and demonstrates that in the Ionian context divisions were not so clear-cut.

Published in:



73 - 96

Date of Publication:

January 2023

About the author

Helena Drysdale

Helena Drysdale is author of six books of history, travel and creative non-fiction. She has a BA from Trinity College, Cambridge, and a PhD from the University of Exeter, and she is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Winchester.

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