Children of Kaywana, 1952

(Great Characters in Literature)


Kaywana (ki-WAH-nah), the daughter of a West Indian woman and an English sailor, the mistress of both Adrian van Groenwegel and August Vyfius and the mother of children by both men. She defies the local shaman, because she believes he is poisoning her daughter. Although her daughter recovers, she kills the shaman’s own daughter. She dies in a battle between the Dutch and the natives.

Hendrickje van Groenwegel

Hendrickje van Groenwegel (hehn-DRIHK-yeh fon GREHN-vay-gehl), the great-granddaughter of Kaywana on both her father’s and mother’s sides, and granddaughter of an African slave. She abuses her slaves as well as those of her children whom she considers weaklings. She expresses atheistic views and has an incestuous passion for her son Adrian. Slaves hack her to death in the uprising of 1763.

The Harrowing of Hubertus, 1954

(Great Characters in Literature)

Hubertus van Groenwegel

Hubertus van Groenwegel, a sugar planter and slave owner born in 1727, a descendant of Kaywana, son of Adrian, husband of Rosalind Maybury, and father of several children, both legitimate and illegitimate. Although he tries to be a pious Christian, Hubertus is sorely tempted to break his marriage vows when he meets Woglinde Clackson. She is the wife of fellow planter Cranley Clackson, but they had an affair while teenagers. Now, twenty years later, she explicitly asks Hubertus to have a love affair with her. She dies of illness before completing her conquest. Hubertus then invites his widowed cousin Faustina and her sons to live at his plantation. Hubertus and Faustina have an affair just before she leaves to become Clackson’s second wife; the resulting child is brought up as Graeme Clackson. Hubertus informs Rosalind of the affair, because he considers keeping it a secret to be immoral. After resigning various public offices, he becomes a serious student of philosophy and theology and reconciles his Christian beliefs and his fleshly desires. After both Rosalind and Faustina die, he takes up with an African slave and fathers a son by her.

Rosalind Maybury van Groenwegel

Rosalind Maybury van Groenwegel, the English wife of Hubertus and daughter of a sugar planter. When she learns that Cranley Clackson is ill, she goes to nurse him, although she knows of Woglinde’s desire for her husband....

(The entire section is 512 words.)

Kaywana Blood, 1958

(Great Characters in Literature)

Dirk van Groenwegel

Dirk van Groenwegel, another descendant of Kaywana, born in 1795, the last of the traditional van Groenwegels. He consolidates the plantation and concentrates on sugar production. His way of life is threatened by two events. First, the price of sugar falls. Second, the British government emancipates the slaves. He keeps up the family spirit by reading old family letters. He dies in 1883, having foreseen the collapse of the sugar market.


(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Birbalsingh, F. M. “Edgar Mittelholzer: Moralist or Pornographer?” in Journal of Commonwealth Literature. No. 7 (July, 1969), pp. 88-103.

Guckian, Patrick. “The Balance of Colour: A Reassessment of the Work of Edgar Mittelholzer,” in Jamaica Journal. IV (March, 1970), pp. 38-45.

Seymour, A. J. “An Introduction to the Novels of Edgar Mittelholzer,” in Kyk-Over-AI. VIII (December, 1958), pp. 60-74.