From the sixteenth century on, British involvement in Africa was reflected in an immense volume of writing. Inherent in the variegated modern British literature on Africa, ranging from works of great literary merit to sheer trash, was a remarkable consistency in its inaccurate depiction of Africa and its people. Political and social changes were mirrored in the literary responses to the slave trade, the acquisition and subsequent loss of an empire, and the rise of independent Africa. But persistently throughout the four centuries, the literature centered upon one main theme: the confrontation between civilized Britain and savage Africa. Through a retrospective analysis, The Africa That Never Was demonstrates that the literary image of Africa is a fantasy of a continent and a people that never were and could never be.