The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho
PICKED FOR THE TIMES BIGGEST BOOKS FOR AUTUMN 2022
‘An absolutely thrilling, throat-catching wonder of a historical novel. Told with dazzling energy and brilliant panache. Hugely recommended.’ STEPHEN FRY
‘Phenomenal! Highly recommended’ MALORIE BLACKMAN, author of Noughts and Crosses
‘Not to be missed’ Guardian
MEET CHARLES IGNATIUS SANCHO: HIS EXTRAORDINARY STORY, HIDDEN FOR THREE HUNDRED YEARS, IS ABOUT TO BE TOLD. DISCOVER GEORGIAN LONDON AS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE . . .
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 is utterly alone. The man he hoped would help is dying. Sancho is desperate.
And yet this same Sancho will go on to tread the boards of London’s theatres, become a highly acclaimed musician and composer, lead the fight to end slavery, meet the King and become the very first Black person to vote in Britain . . .
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 historical novel, telling the true story of a Great Black Briton. Fans of Bridgerton, Hamilton, The Miniaturist and The Confessions of Frannie Langton will adore being led into the heart of Black Georgian London.
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 Elegant, moving and vital, that this book is the product of a deep interest and long study of one man’s life and times is evident. But 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 With his intriguing novel The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho, Paterson Joseph has fully inhabited the important eighteenth-century figure of Sancho. Taking the known facts of Sancho’s life as a slave-born man who became known to both the black and white communities of London, from nobility to working class, Joseph breathes vivid life into the first black man to cast a vote in the England, but whose family ranked higher in his heart than any others in his life. The novel sings with the words of a man who survives his struggles, and expresses himself through music, language, and love. — Gretchen Gerzina 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. — Harriet Walter
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