Afterward: Dido Belle and Her Legacy
Today, we still know tantalizingly little about Dido Elizabeth Belle. What
became of her? What kind of life was she able to lead as a wealthy, bi-racial
woman in the late 18th Century?
The only certain facts are that following the Zong trial depicted in BELLE, she
married John Davinier, and they lived in the Pimlico section of London, where
they had three sons, including a pair of twins. When Lord Mansfield died in
1793, he left in his will the statement, "I confirm to Dido Elizabeth Belle her
freedom," suggesting the importance of making her status absolutely clear to the
Belle passed away tragically young even for those times at age 43 - a few years
after the slave trade was abolished -- of unknown causes. Her last traceable
relative, Harold Davinier, died in 1975, ironically a free white South African
living in the era of apartheid.
Today, historians continue to ponder the impact that raising Dido Belle might
have had on the man who served as her father, Lord Mansfield, and in turn what
impact his decision in the Zong trial ultimately had on the abolition of
slavery, a movement which would soon take hold in the newly independent United
But Amma Asante hopes that audiences perceive that the end of slavery rested on
no single person. The legal battles were vital - and forward-thinking
establishment figures like Mansfield who were willing to make bold,
controversial choices were key -- but so too were the struggles of many whose
stories have been lost to history and remain anonymous, as Dido Elizabeth Belle
"I hope people will also take from this story that slavery didn't end just by
the white majority saying no. I like Belle because she also said no, and I think
it's very important that black people in history are given their own voices,"
says the director.
For Asante, there is a hope that Dido Belle will also be an inspiration. "So
much of BELLE is about love and courage," she concludes, "and I like to think
that sometimes love and courage are enough to conquer all." ,,
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