New Book | The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho

Posted in books by Editor on April 17, 2023

From Macmillan:

Paterson Joseph, The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho: A Novel (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2023), 432 pages, ISBN: ‎978-1250880376, £17 / $28.

It’s finally time for Charles Ignatius Sancho to tell his story, one that begins on a slave ship in the Atlantic and ends at the very center of London life. . . . A lush and immersive tale of adventure, artistry, romance, and freedom set in eighteenth-century England and based on a true story

It’s 1746 and Georgian London is not a safe place for a young Black man. Charles Ignatius Sancho must dodge slave catchers and worse, and his main ally—a kindly duke who taught him to write—is dying. Sancho is desperate and utterly alone. So how does the same 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? Through every moment of this rich, exuberant tale, Sancho forges ahead to see how much he can achieve in one short life: “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.”

Paterson Joseph is an award-winning actor who has been fascinated by Sancho for many years. He wrote and starred in the play Sancho: An Act of Remembrance in 2018, which was staged in the UK as well as the US. A veteran of the stage, TV, and film, Paterson has appeared on The Mosquito Coast, an Apple TV+ original series; Doctor Who; Noughts + Crosses; and other BBC programs. The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho is his first novel.

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Thomas Mallon recently reviewed the book for The New York Times (11 April 2023), observing that

. . . in an author’s note, Joseph explains his desire to present Black English characters “in the form in which I met Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Jane Eyre.” Entering the realm of fiction, he catches the genre’s particular mood in Sancho’s 18th century. All the sudden shifts in fortune, the deathbeds and legacies, along with the guileful use of what Sancho calls “cheek”: These are elements in the episodic, picaresque adventures of every Tom Jones and Moll Flanders that elbowed a way through the Georgian era. . . .

The full review is available here»

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