‘An absolutely thrilling, throat-catching wonder of a historical novel. I read with alternating fascination, dread, hilarity, admiration, sorrow and triumph for a full life rendered with such animation, brilliance and understanding. Told in wonderful prose and with dazzling energy and brilliant panache. Hugely recommended.’ – STEPHEN FRY
‘Sings with the words of a man who survives his struggles, and expresses himself through music, language and love’ – GRETCHEN GERZINA, author, historian and academic
Meet Charles Ignatius Sancho: his extraordinary story, hidden for three hundred years, is about to be told.
I had little right to live, born on a slave ship where my parents both died. But I survived, and indeed, you might say I did more…
It’s 1746 and Georgian London is not a safe place for a young Black man, especially one who has escaped slavery. After the twinkling lights in the Fleet Street coffee shops are blown out and the great houses have closed their doors for the night, Sancho must dodge slave catchers and worse. The man he hoped would help – a kindly duke who taught him to write – is dying. Sancho is desperate and utterly alone.
So how does Charles Ignatius Sancho meet the King, write and play highly acclaimed music, become the first Black person to vote in Britain and lead the fight to end slavery?
It’s time for him to tell his story, one that begins on a tempestuous Atlantic Ocean, and ends at the very centre of London life. And through it all, he must ask: born amongst death, how much can you achieve in one short life?
From one of Britain’s best-loved actors, Paterson Joseph, comes an utterly captivating and haunting historical novel, telling the true story of a Great Black Briton. Fans of Bridgerton, Hamilton, Jessie Burton and The Confessions of Frannie Langton will adore being led into the heart of Black Georgian London.
‘I so admire Joseph’s verbal imagination which seems to effortlessly bridge the gap between our time and Sancho’s. In a huge, warm, real voice, Joseph makes us look at a past world from another perspective. It’s terrific.’ Dame Harriet Walter, acclaimed actor
‘Elegant, moving and vital. What Paterson Joseph does – what every writer of historical fiction yearns to do – is make history fall away so that in every moment we are immersed in a lived life. A stunning debut.’ Jess Kidd, author of Things in Jars