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 Bringing together both the published and the recently discovered unpublished letters, along with meticulous footnotes, a wealth of scholarly and contextual material, and an illuminating introduction, Carretta allows us to see Sancho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