Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African
  • Publication Date: April 14, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781554811960 / 1554811961
  • 368 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African

  • Publication Date: April 14, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781554811960 / 1554811961
  • 368 pages; 5½" x 8½"

A contemporary critic described Ignatius Sancho as “what is very uncommon for men of his complexion, A man of letters.” A London shopkeeper, former butler, and descendant of slaves, Sancho was the first author of African descent to have his correspondence published. He was also a critic of literature, music, and art; a composer; and an advocate for the abolition of slavery. Sancho’s letters reveal an avid reader and prolific author, and his epistolary style shows a sophisticated understanding of both private and public audiences. Even after the abolition of the slave trade, proponents of equal rights on both sides of the Atlantic continued to use Sancho as an exemplar of the intellectual and moral capacity of people of African descent.

In addition to the annotated letters by Sancho, this edition includes Laurence Sterne’s letters to Sancho, Sancho’s surviving autograph writings, and a selection of the many eighteenth-century responses to Sancho and his letters.


“Vincent Carretta’s Broadview edition of Ignatius Sancho’s letters revises and expands his earlier editions of this important eighteenth-century Black British text. Bringing together both the published and the recently discovered unpublished letters, along with meticulous footnotes, a wealth of scholarly and contextual material, and an illuminating introduction, Carretta allows us to see Sancho more vividly than ever before. But at the heart of this edition are the letters themselves: sparkling, witty, and endlessly readable, they remain a fascinating insight into the life of an African at the heart of eighteenth-century literary London.” — Brycchan Carey, Kingston University

“The first man of African descent to publish a book in English, and to vote in a parliamentary election, Ignatius Sancho enjoyed considerable fame in eighteenth-century society. His letters were praised, quite rightly, for their wit, charm, and sensibility—though he was, equally, a trenchant critic of slavery and empire. Vincent Carretta’s edition for Broadview will become the new authoritative text, providing attentive and erudite annotation and a full biographical introduction, alongside all Sancho’s known letters, both in print and manuscript—including those only discovered in the last decade. Sancho is justly served in this excellent edition, which is a full and fitting memorial to his life and writing.” — Markman Ellis, Queen Mary University of London

Ignatius Sancho: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text
A Note on Money

Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, An African. In Two Volumes. To which are prefixed, Memoirs of his Life.
Volume I
Volume II

Appendix A: Ignatius Sancho’s Family

Appendix B: Ignatius Sancho’s Principal Correspondents

Appendix C: List of Letters

Appendix D: Laurence Sterne’s Correspondence with Ignatius Sancho

  1. Sancho to Sterne [21 July 1766]
  2. Sterne to Sancho [27 July 1766]
  3. Sterne to Sancho [16 May 1767]
  4. Sterne to Sancho [30 June 1767]

Appendix E: Ignatius Sancho’s Autograph Letters

  1. Sancho to William Stevenson (26 November 1776)
  2. Sancho to William Stevenson (24 October 1777)
  3. Sancho to William Stevenson (22 October 1778)
  4. Sancho to William Stevenson (14 November 1778)
  5. Sancho to Reverend Seth Ellis Stevenson (5 December 1778)
  6. Sancho to William Stevenson (5 December 1778)
  7. Sancho to William Stevenson (14 December 1778)
  8. Sancho to (presumably) William Stevenson (19 December 1778)
  9. Sancho to Reverend Seth Ellis Stevenson (4 January 1779)
  10. Sancho to Reverend Seth Ellis Stevenson (14 January 1779)
  11. Sancho to William Stevenson (11 March 1779)
  12. Sancho to (presumably) William Stevenson (1 April 1779)
  13. Sancho to William Stevenson (16 November 1779)
  14. Sancho to William Stevenson (4 January 1780)
  15. Sancho to (presumably) William Stevenson (18 August 1780)

Appendix F: Eighteenth-Century References to Ignatius Sancho, and Responses to Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, An African

  1. The Monthly Review, or, Literary Journal (November 1775)
  2. The Gentleman’s Magazine: and Historical Chronicle (January 1776)
  3. The Public Advertiser (4 June 1778)
  4. Edmund Rack (20 April 1779)
  5. A Manuscript Letter Dated 17 September 1779 from the Aspiring Author George Cumberland to His Brother Richard Dennison Cumberland, Vicar of Driffield in Gloucester County, Attests to Sancho’s Reputation as a Literary Critic (17 September 1779)
  6. Ewan Clark, Miscellaneous Poems, By Mr. Ewan Clark (1779)
  7. John Thomas Smith, Nollekens and His Times (1829)
  8. The Gazeteer, and New Daily Advertiser (15 December 1780)
  9. Anthony Highmore, Jr., “Epistle to Mr. J. H—, on the Death of his justly Lamented Friend, Ignatius Sancho” (1780-82)
  10. The Gentleman’s Magazine: and Historical Chronicle (April 1781)
  11. The Gentleman’s Magazine: and Historical Chronicle (May 1781)
  12. The Public Advertiser (9 August 1782)
  13. William Whitehead, British Poet Laureate Since 1757, in an August 1782 Letter to George Simon Harcourt, second Earl Harcourt (August 1782)
  14. A New Review; with Literary Curiosities, and Literary Intelligence (1782)
  15. The Gentleman’s Magazine (September 1782)
  16. The European Magazine and London Review (September 1782)
  17. The New Annual Register, or General Repository of History, Politics, and Literature, for the Year 1782 (1783)
  18. John Williams, Thoughts on the Origin, and on the Most Rational and Natural Method of Teaching Languages: with Some Observations on the Necessity of One Universal Language for All Works of Science (1783)
  19. The Monthly Review: or, Literary Journal (December 1783)
  20. The Critical Review: or, Annals of Literature (January 1784)
  21. Town and Country Magazine, or Universal Repository of Knowledge, Instruction, and Entertainment (February 1784)
  22. Elkanah Watson, Men and Times of the Revolution; or, Memoirs of Elkanah Watson. Including Journals of Travels in Europe and America, from 1777 to 1842 (1856)
  23. George Gregory, Essays Historical and Moral (1785)
  24. Joseph Woods, Thoughts on the Slavery of the Negroes (1784)
  25. James Tobin, Cursory Remarks upon the Reverend Mr. Ramsay’s Essay on the Treatment and Conversion of African Slaves in the Sugar Colonies. By a Friend of the West India Colonies, and their Inhabitants (1785)
  26. Thomas Clarkson, An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly the African, Translated from a Latin Dissertation, which was honoured with the first Prize in the University of Cambridge, for the Year 1785 (1786)
  27. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1787)
  28. Thomas Cooper, Letters on the Slave Trade: First Published in Wheeler’s Manchester Chronicle; and since Re-printed with Additions and Alterations (1787)
  29. “Civis,” The Morning Chronicle, and London Advertiser (5 February 1788)
  30. “Civis,” The Morning Chronicle, and London Advertiser (19 August 1788)
  31. The Massachusetts Spy: Or, The Worcester Gazette (4 December 1788)
  32. William Mason, An Occasional Discourse, Preached in the Cathedral of St. Peter in York, January 27, 1788, on the Subject of the African Slave-Trade (1788)
  33. Peter Peckard, Am I not a Man and a Brother? (1788)
  34. Jacques-Pierre Brissot de Warville, A Critical Examination of the Marquis de Chatellux’s Travels in North America … Principally Intended as a Refutation of his Opinions Concerning the Quakers, the Negroes, the People, and Mankind (1788)
  35. The County Magazine, for the Years 1786 and 1787 (1788)
  36. “Clericus,” The Country Curate; or, Letters from Clericus to Benevolus (1788)
  37. William Dickson, Letters on Slavery (1789)
  38. Richard Nisbet, The Capacity of Negroes for Religious and Moral Improvement Considered (1789)
  39. Thomas Burgess, Considerations on the Abolition of Slavery and the Slave Trade, upon Grounds of Natural, Religious, and Political Duty (1789)
  40. Fortescue; or, The Soldier’s Reward: A Characteristic Novel (1789)
  41. Elizabeth Bentley, from “On the Abolition of the African Slave-Trade. July, 1789,” in
    Genuine Poetical Compositions, on Various Subjects (1791)
  42. Clara Reeve, Plans of Education; with Remarks on the Systems of Other Writers. In a Series of Letters between Mrs. Darnford and Her Friends (1792)
  43. Alexander Chalmers, A New and General Biographical Dictionary: Containing an Historical, Critical, and Impartial Account of the Lives and Writings of the Most Eminent Persons in Every Nation of the World (1795)
  44. John Gabriel Stedman, Narrative of a Five Years Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam (1796)
  45. William Stevenson in John Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century (1815)

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Vincent Carretta is Professor of English at the University of Maryland.