Home Slavery Resources British Abolitionists Olaudah Equiano Ignatius Sancho Ottobah Cugoano Naturalists Places Bookshop Contact About

Ignatius Sancho: A Bibliography

I have tried to make this bibliography as comprehensive as possible. I have included all the titles I know of regardless of their quality or accessibility. However, I will inevitably have overlooked some titles. Please contact me if you notice any glaring omissions or if you have recently published a relevant book or article you would like me to include. I have organised the information under the following headings. Scroll down the page, or click on the link to jump to the category you are interested in.

Manuscripts and editions of The Letters and Sancho's Music

Selections from The Letters

Contemporary Reviews and Accounts of Sancho

Nineteenth-Century Commentary

Twentieth-Century Commentary

Twenty-first Century Commentary

These may appear to be arbitrary divisions, and indeed they are, but I hope they are sufficiently all encompassing to help you find your way around. Within these headings works are in alphabetical order of author, except for the editions which are listed chronologically. In most cases I have added a few words of comment to the entries. Where there is no comment it means that I have not yet had an opportunity to examine the title. I will add a link to publishers of newer books if they have a page which specifically showcases the title listed. Otherwise, I shall leave publishers unlinked.

* This bibliography was last updated on 31 December 2023 *

Manuscripts and Editions


Manuscript copies of Sancho's letters

British Library, London, Stevenson Papers: The letters of Ignatius Sancho. Add MS 89077.

This collection, previously owned by John Ralph Willis, was acquired by the British Library in 2012. It includes 2 published volumes, 23 manuscript items, and 1 facsimile letter. It is the only surviving collection of manuscript letters by Ignatius Sancho. Some are draft copies of letters included in the original published Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African while 14 are not in the original edition. Please note that special permission is required to view this collection, but the letters are:


Editions of Sancho's Letters

Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African, to which are Prefixed, Memoirs of his Life, 1st edn., 2 vols (London: John Nichols, 1782).

Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African, to which are Prefixed, Memoirs of his Life, 2nd edn. (London: John Nichols, 1783).

Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African, to which are Prefixed, Memoirs of his Life, 3rd edn., 2 vols (London: John Nichols, 1784).

Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African, to which is Prefixed, Memoirs of his Life (Dublin: Brett Smith for Richard Moncrieff, 1784).

Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African, to which are Prefixed, Memoirs of His Life by Joseph Jekyll, Esq., M.P., 5th edn. (London: William Sancho, 1803).

Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African, to which are Prefixed, Memoirs of His Life by Joseph Jekyll, Esq., M.P., a facsimile of the 5th edn., with an introduction and notes by Paul Edwards (London: Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1968).

Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African, to which are Prefixed, Memoirs of His Life by Joseph Jekyll, Esq., M.P., a facsimile of the 5th edn. for the Black Heritage Library Collection (Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1971).

The Letters of Ignatius Sancho, a new edition, based on the 1803 5th edn., with an introduction, notes and bibliography, edited by Paul Edwards and Polly Rewt (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994).

Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African, based on the 1782 1st edn., with an introduction and notes by Vincent Carretta (London: Penguin, 1998). For many year the standard edition. Now no longer in print, but replaced by Carretta's 2015 Broadview edition.

Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African, to which are Prefixed, Memoirs of His Life, a facsimile of the 1st edition. for Cosimo books (New York: Cosimo Books, 2005).

Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African, a new edition, based on the 1782 1st edn., with an introduction, notes, and contextual materials, edited by Vincent Carretta (Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Editions, 2015). This is now the standard scholarly edition. It also includes the manuscript letters now in the British Library. Available from: Amazon.com (USA) | Amazon.co.uk (UK)


Editions of Sancho's Music

Minuets, Cotillons & Country Dances for the Violin, Mandolin, German Flute, & Harpsichord Composed by an African Most Humbly Inscribed to his Grace Henry Duke of Buccleugh, &c, &c, &c. London. Printed for the Author. [c. 1767].

A Collection of New Songs Composed by An African Humbly Inscribed to the Honble. Mrs James Brudenell by her most humble Devoted & Obedient Servant, The Author. [c. 1769].

Minuets &c. &c. for the Violin Mandolin German-flute and Harpsichord. Compos'd by an African. Book 2d. Humbly Inscribed to the Right Honble. John Lord Montagu of Boughton. London. Printed for the Author and sold by Richd. Duke at his Music Shop near Opposite Great Turn stile Holburn, where may be had Book first. [c. 1770].

Cotillions &c. humbly dedicated (with permission) to the Princes's [sic] Royal, by Her Royal Highness's most obedient servant Ignatius Sancho. London: printed for C. & S. Thompson, no. 75, St. Pauls Church Yard [c. 1770]. Oblong 12mo (11 cm x 16 cm), engraved title followed by 44 pages of engraved music and dance instruction, original Dutch floral wrappers. Recently discovered and acquired in 2016 by the Harvard University Theatre Collection.

Twelve Country Dances for the Year 1779. Set for the Harpsichord By Permission Humbly Dedicated to the Right Honourable Miss North, by her most obedient Servant Ignatius Sancho. London Printed for S and A Thompson No 75 St Pauls Church Yard Price 6d.

Wright, Josephine R.B., Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780) An Early African Composer in England - the Collected Editions of his Music in Facsimile (London and New York: Garland, 1981).

Dances for a Princess, humbly dedicated (with permission) to the Princess Royal by Her Royal Highnesses Most Obedient Servant Ignatius Sancho, edited with an introduction by S. Petchey. 22 dances & facs. of their music and two more pieces. Available from The Early Dance Circle

Ignatius Sancho, Twelve English Country Dances written by an erstwhile slave (1779). Facs. Set for the Harpsichord. (London: Thompson, 2014). Interpreted by V Webster, illus. D Durant, research S Petchey & P Cooper. Available from The Early Dance Circle

Ignatius Sancho, Minuets & Optional Dances (Audio CD and download) played by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra conducted by Janise White (Aacms, 2015). It can be downloaded from iTunes, or ordered from: Amazon.com (USA) | Amazon.co.uk (UK).

[Back To Top]




Abrams, M.H, et al, The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 7th edn (London and New York: W.W. Norton, 2000), vol. 1, pp. 2807-2810. A few letters, including the Sancho-Sterne correspondence.
More information from Norton

Adams, Francis D. and Sanders, Barry, eds.,Three Black Writers in Eighteenth-Century England (Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing, 1971). The Sancho material appears between pages 17 and 42.

Bown, Lalage, Two Centuries of African English: A Survey and Anthology of Non-Fictional English Prose by African Writers Since 1769 (London: Heinemann, 1973). A short and rather odd selection from the Letters. The historical material contains inaccuracies.

Caretta, Vincent, ed., Unchained Voices: An Anthology of Black Authors in the English-Speaking World of the Eighteenth Century (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996). An extremely useful introduction to the subject. The Sancho selection at pp. 77-109 is generous, with excellent footnotes.

Edwards, Paul and Dabydeen, David, eds., Black Writers in Britain 1760-1890 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1991). Six letters are reproduced, with notes, on pages 24-38.

Edwards, Paul and Walvin, James, Black Personalities in the Era of the Slave Trade (London: Macmillan, 1983).

Kitson, Peter, et al, eds, Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation: Writings in the British Romantic Period (London: Pickering and Chatto, 1999), 8 vols. A selection from Sancho's Letters comes first in the first volume of this facsimile collection. This anthology is on a scale which will confine it to libraries with a healthy budget, but the Sancho reprint is placed in a structurally important position and the entire collection will prove to be an invaluable asset to all concerned with the literature of slavery and abolition.
More information from Pickering and Chatto

[Back To Top]


Contemporary Reviews and Accounts of Sancho


A New Review; with Literary Curiosities, and Literary Intelligence, 2 (1782):168. The first, very short, review of Sancho's Letters.

Bentley, Elizabeth, 'On the Abolition of the African Slave Trade. July, 1789', Genuine Poetical Compositions on Various Subjects (Norwich: Crouse and Stevenson, 1791), pp. 19-23. A poem in which Sancho's 'genius claim'd him to an exalted place / Amongst the sons of learning, wit, and fame'.

Berkeley Hall: or, The Pupil of Experience (London, 1796). One of the characters is an enslaved African called Sancho.

Black, Clementine, ed., The Cumberland Letters. Being the Correspondence of Richard Dennison Cumberland and George Cumberland between the Years 1771 and 1784 (London: Martin Secker, 1912), p.267. George Cumberland praises Sancho in a letter written in 1780.

Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich, 'Ueber die Negern insbesondre', in Beyträge zur Naturgeschichte, Erster Theil (Göttingen: Bey Johann Christian Dieterich, 1790), pp. 84-118.

Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich, 'Ueber die Negern insbesondre', in Beyträge zur Naturgeschichte, Erster Theil, zweyte Ausgabe (Göttingen: Bey Heinrich Dieterich, 1806), pp. 73-97.

Chalmers, Alexander, A New and General Biographical Dictionary (London, 1795). The entry on Sancho is largely a reprint of Jekyll's Life. The copy in the British Library [BL1609/1500] belonged to Joseph Jekyll.

Clark, Ewan, Miscellaneous poems, by Mr. Ewan Clark (Whitehaven: J. Ware and Son, 1779). Contains two poems based on the Sancho-Sterne correspondence. The first, 'From Ignatius Sancho to Mr Sterne', is at pp 214-16. The second, 'From Mr Sterne, to Ignatius Sancho', is at pp. 217-19. Both poems paraphrase the original letters in rhyming couplets.

Clarkson, Thomas, 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, (London: T. Cadell and J. Phillips, 1786), p. 175. Sancho briefly mentioned.

Critical Review: or, Annals of Literature, 57 (1784): 43-48. A review of Sancho's Letters.

Dickson, William, Letters on Slavery (London, 1792), pp. 76-77. Sancho's Letters given as an example of 'African capacity'.

European Magazine and London Review, 2 (1782): 199-202. A review of Sancho's Letters.

Fortescue; or, the soldier's reward: a characteristic novel. In one volume (Dublin, 1789). This mildly satirical epistolary novel includes a letter that describes Sancho followed by a short story attributed to Sancho, The History of Otang, an Indostan Slave, which is accompanied by a short poem called 'Otang's Complaint'. Neither the story nor the poem appear to be Sancho's compositions.

Gentleman's Magazine, 50 (1780): 591. A short obituary of Sancho.

Gentleman's Magazine, 52 (1782): 437-9. A review of Sancho's Letters.

Imlay, Gilbert, Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America, (London, 1792), p. 185.

Jefferson, Thomas, Notes on the State of Virginia (London: J. Stockdale, 1787). This is the first English edition (it was published in the US in 1785) but the book has been reprinted many times in many places. Jefferson's thoughts on Sancho include the dismissive line that his writing does 'more honor to the heart than the head'.

Memoirs and Opinions of Mr Blenfield (London: W. Lane, 1790). This sentimental novel does not specifically mention Sancho, but the character of Shirna Cambo is clearly modelled on him. See pp. 46-54 and 150-160.

Monthly Review; or, Literary Journal, 53 (1775): 409. A review of The Letters of Laurence Sterne which takes note of the correspondence between Sterne and Sancho.

Monthly Review; or, Literary Journal, 69 (1783): 492-497. A review of Sancho's Letters.

Oglander, Cecil, Admiral's Wife, (London, 1940). The Admiral in question is Edward Boscawen. His wife read Sancho's Letters in 1787. Oglander quotes her letter on the subject at pp. 138-9.

Peckard, Peter, Am I not a Man? and a Brother? With all Humility Addressed To The British Legislature (Cambridge: J. Archdeacon, 1788), p.19. Pamphlet, written by Thomas Clarkson's tutor, in which Sancho is recognised as a 'rational and moral writer'.

Peckard, Peter, Justice and Mercy recommended, particularly with reference to the SLAVE TRADE. A Sermon preached before the University of Cambridge (Cambridge: J. Archdeacon, 1788), p.32n. Sancho mentioned in a footnote.

Stedman, John Gabriel, Narrative of a Five Years' Expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam and Guinea, (London, 1796), II, p. 260. Sancho's letters 'would not disgrace the pen of an European'.

Tobin, James, Cursory remarks upon the Reverend Mr. Ramsay's Essay on the treatment and conversion of African slaves in the sugar colonies (London: G. and T. Wilkie, 1785), pp. 117-18. Tobin, the most prominent apologist for slavery of the 1780s, refers to Sancho as an example of what he perceives of as the rule that free Africans always choose servile professions.

The Town and Country Magazine; or, Universal Repository of Knowledge, Instruction and Entertainment, 16 (February 1784) 99-100. Notes that Sancho is 'well known to the literati, and some of the most distinguished persons in this country'. It rewrites the Jekyll biography, but in a very different style.

[Back To Top]


Nineteenth-Century Commentary


Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich, 'Contributions to Natural History' (1806) in Anthropological Treatises of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, ed and trans Thomas Bendyshe (London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts and Green, 1865), pp. 277-325.

Chalmers, Alexander, The General Biographical Dictionary (London, 1812-1817). The entry on Sancho is largely a reprint of Jekyll's Life.

Darton, William, Little Truths, for the Instruction of Children, 2 vols (London: Darton & Harvey, 1802). This is a revised edition of Little Truths better than great Fables written by William Darton in 1788. Volume two includes poetry by Phillis Wheatley and letters by Ignatius Sancho.

Dictionary of National Biography. Sidney Lee's article on Sancho appeared in the first edition of the dictionary which was completed in 1900.

Fitzgerald, Percy, The Life of Laurence Sterne (London: Chapman and Hall, 1864), 2 vols, vol 2, pp. 370-3. The life of Sancho retold in the context of Sancho's correspondence with Sterne.

'Gillespie', 'Some Old Tobacco Labels', Tobacco. A Monthly Trade Journal For The Importer, Exporter, Manufacturer, and Retailer of Tobacco, 86 (February 1888): 36-8. Sancho's trade card reprinted.

'Gillespie', 'Some Old Tobacconists', Tobacco, 90 (June 1888): 156-8. Sancho's life retold in which he is compared with Johnson.

Grégoire, Henri Babtiste (Abbé Grégoire), De La Littérature Des Nègres, ou, Recherces sur leur facultés intellectuelles, leur qualitiés Morales et leur littérature; Suivies de Notices sur la vie et les ouvrages des Nègres qui se sont distingués dans les Sciences, les Lettres et les Arts, (Paris: Maradan, 1808). Jekyll's biography of Sancho is retold, but in French, which somewhat alters the details. There follows an important early discussion of Sancho's sentimental style, and a strongly anti-racist critique of Jefferson's comments on Sancho. The Sancho material is at pp. 252-260.

Grégoire, Henri Babtiste (Abbé Grégoire), An Enquiry concerning the intellectual and moral faculties, and literature of Negroes; followed with an account of the life and works of fifteen Negroes and Mulattoes distinguished in Science, Literature and the Arts. (Brooklyn: Thomas Kirk, 1810). A translation of the above. The Sancho material is at pp. 227-234.

Harcourt, Edward, William, ed., The Harcourt Papers (Oxford: James Parker, 1880), vol. 7, p. 356. A letter from William Whitehead to George Harcourt which mentions Sancho.

Nichols, John, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, vol. 8, p.109. A potted biography of Sancho.

Nichols, John, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, vol. 9, pp. 682-3. An important letter from William Stevenson describing Sancho.

Nichols, John and Ireland, John, eds., Hogarth's Works: With Life and Anecdotal Descriptions of His Pictures, 3 vols (London: Chatto and Windus, 1874), vol. 2, p.182. Sancho (erroneously) conjectured to have sat for Hogarth.

Nichols and Steevens, eds., Hogarth's Works, 3 vols (London: Longman, 1808-17), vol. 2, p.158 and Vol. 3, p.333. Sancho (erroneously) conjectured to have sat for Hogarth.

Notes and Queries, Gainsborough's portrait of Sancho came up for sale in 1889, occasioning a small flurry of letters. These can be found at [7th series], 7: 457, 8: 32 and 8: 296.

Saintsbury, George, ed., Letters of Laurence Sterne, 6 vols (London: J.M. Dent, 1894), Vol. 1, pp. 129-31, vol. 2, p.18, p.25.

Smith, John Thomas, Nollekens and His Times, 2 vols (London: Henry Colburn, 1828). Nollekens visited Sancho in June 1780 and there is an account of his visit. In my edition [ed. Edmund Gosse (London: Richard Bentley, 1895)] this is at pp. 51-3.

Smith, John Thomas, An Antiquarian Ramble in the streets of London; with anecdotes of their more celebrated residents (London, 1846), p. 112. A short biography of Sancho, taken from Jekyll.

Wakefield, Priscilla, Excursions in North America, described in letters from a gentleman and his young companion, to their friends in England (London: Darton and Harvey, 1806). One of the characters is a slave called Sancho.

Watson, Elkanah, Men and times of the revolution, or, Memoirs of Elkanah Watson : including journals of travels in Europe and America, from 1777 to 1842, with his correspondence with public men and reminiscences and incidents of the revolution (New-York: Dana and Co., 1856), p. 233. Watson briefly recounts a visit to Sancho's shop.

[Back To Top]


Twentieth-Century Commentary


Brewer, John, The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century (London: HarperCollins, 1997), p. 141. Sancho briefly mentioned, with a copy of the engraving of his portrait.

Brown, Lloyd, 'Review of Sancho's Letters', Eighteenth-Century Studies, 3 (Spring 1970): 415-19. Useful then, now largely superseded.

Carretta, Vincent, 'Three West Indian Writers of the 1780s Revisited and Revised', Research in African Literature, 29, 4 (Winter 1998): 73-86. Important round-up of recent scholarship, includes two recently identified letters by Sancho.

Cross, Wilbur, The Life and Times of Laurence Sterne (1925). Not yet examined.

Curtin, Philip D., Africa Remembered: Narratives by West Africans from the Era of the Slave Trade (Madison and London: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967). Sancho briefly discussed on p. 14.

Dabydeen, David, and Nana Wilson-Tagoe, A Reader's Guide to Westindian and Black British Literature, 2nd edn, revised (London: Hansib Publications, 1997). Sancho discussed at pp. 118-123 and, especially, pp. 130-131.

Dathorne, O.R., 'African Writers of the Eighteenth Century', The London Magazine, 5 (September 1965): 51-58. One of the first texts of the Sancho renaissance.

De Lerma, D-R., 'Black Composers in Europe: A Works List', Black Music Research Journal 10 (1990): 275-343.

Descargues, Madeleine, 'Ignatius Sancho's Letters', The Shandean: An Annual Devoted to Laurence Sterne and His Works, 3 (1991). Mostly bibliographical and typographical. There are interesting reprints of various early editions of the Letters

Dommergues, Andre, 'Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780), the White-Masked African', The History and Historiography of Commonwealth Literature, ed. Dieter Riemenschneider (Tubingen: Gunter Narr Verlag, 1983). Contains a number of errors, for example, that Sancho was painted by Goya.

Edwards, Paul, 'Black People in Britain: Olaudah Equiano and Ignatius Sancho', in History Today, 31:9 (31 August 1981). Brief biography and extract of letters about the Gordon Riots.

Edwards, Paul, 'Black writers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries' in The black presence in English literature, ed. David Dabydeen (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985), pp. 50-67. Sancho's letters 'reveal a man largely assimilated to English middle-class society, good-natured, easy-going, patriotic, liberal and devout' (p. 52).

Edwards, Paul, Unreconciled Strivings and Ironic Strategies: Three Afro-British Authors of the Georgian Era: Ignatius Sancho, Olaudah Equiano, Robert Wedderburn (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1992). A short pamphlet taking issue with Keith Sandiford and others. Difficult to find it is nonetheless important for being an historicist counterblast to literary approaches to Sancho.

Ellis, Markman, The Politics of Sensibility: Race, Gender and Commerce in the Sentimental Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). Valuable examination of Sancho in the context of the sentimental novel and in the context of his correspondence with Laurence Sterne. The Sancho material can be found at pp. 55-86.
More information from Cambridge University Press

Fryer, Peter, Staying Power; the History of Black People in Britain (London: Pluto Press, 1984). The best general history of the British black presence to date, though sometimes too uncritical of the historical and literary sources. Sancho is discussed at pp. 93-98.

Gbadamosi, Raimi, 'Ignatius Sancho', Third Text: Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Art and Culture, 11:40 (1997): 103-5. A review of the 'Ignatius Sancho: An African Man of Letters' exhibition held at the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1997.

Gerzina, Gretchen, Black England: Life Before Emancipation, (London: John Murray, 1995). Sancho is frequently mentioned in this readable, though chatty, introduction to the eighteenth-century black community. Sancho is discussed at length on pp. 57-66.

Ignatius Sancho: Life and Times An extremely useful teaching pack aimed at teachers of 10-16 year olds. It includes considerable literary, historical and visual material on Sancho and his historical background as well as a CD recording of his music. The pack costs £40.00. It is not available in bookshops, but for further information, or to order, write to:

Phil Jones, 10th Floor, Riverside House
Woolwich High Street, LONDON SE18 6DF, United Kingdom
Please mention this website if you ask for more information.

Innes, Lyn, 'Eighteenth-Century Men of Letters: Ignatius Sancho and Sake Dean Mahomed', in Reading the 'New' Literatures in a Postcolonial Era ed. Susheila Nasta (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2000), pp. 17-36.

King, Reyahn, ed., Ignatius Sancho: An African Man of Letters (London: National Portrait Gallery, 1997). All the essays in this collection are excellent. The National Portrait Gallery offers more information.

Levin, Carole, 'From Leo Africanus to Ignatius Sancho: Backgrounds and Echoes to Othello.' Lamar Journal of the Humanities, XXII, 2 (Fall 1996), 45-68.

Little, Kenneth, Negroes in Britain: A Study of Racial Relations in English Society (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1947). Dated now, the author expresses his anger at the 'colour bar'. This is a scholarly anti-racist text written at a time when few people admitted that there was racism in British society. Sancho is discussed on pp. 200-201.

Martin, S.I., Incomparable World, (London: Quartet Books, 1996). Although set in 1786, six years after his death, Sancho is a presence in this historical novel about London's eighteenth-century African community. See particularly pp. 96-7.

Myers, Norma, Reconstructing the Black Past: Blacks in Britain 1780-1830 (London: Routledge, 1996). Sancho is mentioned frequently throughout the book.

Notes and Queries, 154 (1928): 138 and 174. Some not very illuminating letters which admirably illustrate how far Sancho and the C18th black presence had been forgotten by early C20th Britain.

Ogude, S.E., Genius in Bondage: A Study of the Origins of African Literature in English (Ile-Ife, Nigeria: University of Ife Press, 1983).

Pratt, Mary Louise, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (1992) 2nd edn (Abingdon: Routledge, 2008), pp. 68-9, 100. Brief mentions, quoted second hand from Wylie Sypher and John Gabriel Stedman.

Ramdin, Ron, The Making of the Black Working Class in Britain (Aldershot: Gower, 1987), p. 10. Sancho briefly mentioned. There is a typographical error which ascribes his Letters to Quobna Ottobah Cugoano.

Sandhu, Sukhdev, 'Ignatius Sancho and Laurence Sterne', Research in African Literature 29, No 4 (Winter 1998): 88-105. A lively essay, taking issue with the view that Sancho was 'obsequious' or 'assimilated' to English culture.

Sandiford, Keith, Measuring the Moment: Strategies of Protest in Eighteenth-century Afro-English Writing (London: Associated University Presses, 1988). Introduces the notion of the 'ironic strategy' by which Afro-British writers registered their protest against slavery while ostensibly remaining within a mainstream discourse. A very influential work.

Shyllon, F.O., Black People in Britain 1555-1833 (London: Oxford University Press for the Institute of Race Relations, 1977), pp. 187-203. An important addition to Sancho studies, although initially too reliant on the phrasing of the Jekyll biography.

Shyllon, F.O., Black Slaves in Britain (London: Oxford University Press for the Institute of Race Relations, 1974), p. 16. A short discussion.

Sussman, Charlotte, Consuming Anxieties: Consumer Protest, Gender and British Slavery, 1713-1833 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000). Sussman discusses Sancho in various places in her discussion of the eighteenth-century consumer boycotts of slave-produced goods.
More information from Stanford University Press

Sypher, Wylie, Guinea's Captive Kings: British Anti-slavery Literature of the XVIIIth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1942). An oddity of a book, this comprehensive account of the literature is still highly useful as a bibliographical tool, but is uncomfortably critical of anti-slavery. The Sancho material is at pp. 149-154 and 285-286.

Thomas, Helen, Romanticism and Slave Narratives: Transatlantic Testimonies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). Sancho briefly mentioned on p. 141.
More information from Cambridge University Press

Vincent, Theo, 'Two Eighteenth Century African Writers: Ignatius Sancho and Ottobah Cugoano', Black Orpheus. A Journal of the Arts in Africa (1970): 20-30.

Walvin, James, 'In Black and White: Recent Publications on British Black Writings', Slavery And Abolition, 16 (1995): 376-382. A useful round-up of recent literature.

Walvin, James, Black and White: the Negro and English Society, 1555-1945. (London: Allen Lane the Penguin Press, 1973). Walvin's early work is now dated. The Sancho material is at p. 61 and pp. 84-89.

Walvin, James, England, Slaves and Freedom, 1776-1838 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1986).

Walvin, James, The Black Presence: A Documentary History of the Negro in England, 1555-1860 (London: Orbach and Chambers, 1971).

Willis, J.R. 'New Light on the Life of Ignatius Sancho: Some Unpublished Letters', Slavery and Abolition, 1 (1980): 345-58. Reprint of fourteen manuscript letters attributed to Sancho. The manuscripts are now in the British Library, London.

Wood, Marcus, Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America, 1780-1865, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000). Sancho very briefly mentioned, but an error ascribes Gainsborough's portrait to Sir Joshua Reynolds (p. 153)

Woodard, Helena, African British Writings in the Eighteenth Century: the Politics of Race and Reason (Westport, Conn, Greenwood Press, 1999). Contains a chapter; 'Ignatius Sancho and Laurence Sterne: The Measure of Benevolence and the "Cult of Sensibility"' which progresses an interesting, if uncontroversial, reading of Sancho and his place in the world of Sternian sensibility.
More information from Greenwood Press

Wright, Josephine R.B., 'Early African musicians in Britain', Under the imperial carpet: Essays in black history 1780-1950 ed. Rainer Lotz and Ian Pegg (Crawley: Rabbit, 1986).

Wright, Josephine R.B., 'Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780), African Composer in England', Black Perspective in Music 7 (Fall 1979).

[Back To Top]


Twenty-First-Century Commentary


1. Commentary and Analysis

Albert, Pamela J., Transatlantic Engagements with the British Eighteenth Century (London: Routledge, 2007). Discussion of Sancho as mediated through the work of David Dabydeen.

Barker-Benfield, G.J., Ignatius Sancho and the British Abolitionist Movement, 1729-1786: Manhood, Race and Sensibility, (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2023). | [More from Palgrave | More from Amazon |

Carey, Brycchan, British Abolitionism and the Rhetoric of Sensibility: Writing, Sentiment,and Slavery, 1760-1807 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Carey discusses Sancho at various places, especially pages 1, 57-63, and 66-7.
Click here for more information

Carey, Brycchan, 'Ignatius Sancho', in The Encyclopedia of Life Writing: Autobiographical and Biographical Forms, 2 vols, ed. Margaretta Jolly (London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001), II, pp. 775-76. A short biographical entry.

Carey, Brycchan, '"The extraordinary Negro": Ignatius Sancho, Joseph Jekyll, and the Problem of Biography', British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 26, 2 (Spring 2003), 1-13. Argues that Joseph Jekyll's Life of Ignatius Sancho is more a literary than an historical document.
[Download this article]

Carey, Brycchan, '"The hellish means of Killing and Kidnapping": Ignatius Sancho and the Campaign Against the "abominable traffic for slaves"', in Discourses of Slavery and Abolition: Britain and its Colonies, 1760-1838, eds. Brycchan Carey, Markman Ellis, and Sara Salih (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), pp. 81-95. Argues that Sancho was unequivocally associated with early abolitionism, and that he may have had a (posthumous) hand in the construction of The Letters
[More information from Palgrave Macmillan]

Carey, Brycchan, '"The worse than Negro barbarity of the populace": Ignatius Sancho witnesses the Gordon Riots', in The Gordon Riots and British Culture, ed Ian Haywood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2011), pp. 144–61. Shows that Sancho's supposed 'eye-witness' account of the Gordon Riots was probably a literary construct, based on reading in the newspapers.

Carey, Brycchan, 'Slavery and the Novel of Sentiment', in The Sentimental Novel in the Eighteenth Century, ed Albert J. Rivero (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), pp. 138-54. Sancho discussed in the context of Sternean abolitionist writing.

Carey, Brycchan, 'Abolishing Cruelty: The Concurrent Growth of Antislavery and Animal Welfare Sentiment in British and Colonial Literature' in The Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 43:2 (June 2020): 203-220. Sancho's views on animals briefly discussed on p. 205.

Carletta, David. M., 'Ignatius Sancho (1729-1789)' in The Encyclopedia of Emancipation and Abolition in the Transatlantic World, ed. Junius P. Rodriguez, 3 vols (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2007), II, pp. 467-8. A pooly researched article in an otherwise useful encyclopedia; Carletta's entry reproduces all the usual mistakes and cliches about Sancho.

Chiles, Katy L., Transformable Race: Surprising Metamorphoses in the Literature of Early America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), Sancho very briefly mentioned on p. 32. | [More from OUP | More from Amazon |

Cypess, Rebecca, 'Notation, Performance, and the Significance of Print in the Music of Ignatius Sancho (c. 1729-1780)' in The Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, preprint 15 November 2022 https://doi.org/10.1111/1754-0208.12860

Cypess, Rebecca, 'The Poetics of the Wise Fool in the Music and Letters of Ignatius Sancho' in Music & Letters 104:2 (2023); 197-228. https://doi.org/10.1093/ml/gcad002

Ellis, Markman, 'Ignatius Sancho's Letters: Sentimental Libertinism and the Politics of Form', in Genius in Bondage: Literature of the Early Black Atlantic, ed. Vincent Carretta and Philip Gould (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001), pp. 199-217. 'Rather than being an example of assimilation, obsequiousness or mimicry, as many of Sancho's recent critics have contended, the form and substance of Sancho's Letters repeatedly declare a culturally combative exceptionalism that makes his book both transgressive and radical' (p. 212).
More information from University Press of Kentucky

Festa, Lynn, Sentimental Figures of Empire in Eighteenth-Century Britain and France (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), pp. 85-6. Brief discussion of Sancho's correspondence with Laurence Sterne.

Hammerschmidt, Sören C., 'Character, Cultural Agency and Abolition: Ignatius Sancho's Published Letters' in 'Slavery and Antislavery': a Special Edition of The Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 31:2 (June 2008), 259-74.

Hanley, Ryan, Beyond Slavery and Abolition: Black British Writing c.1770-1830 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019). The first chapter of this important study of Black British writing from the age of slavery examines Sancho's 'posthumous literary celebrity' as well as Sancho's more private identity, as revealed in his manuscript letters. More Information

Innes, C.L., 'Black British Writing and Literary History', The European English Messenger, XI, 2, (Autumn 2002), 13-16. Sancho briefly mentioned.

Innes, C.L., A History of Black and Asian Writing in Britain, 1700-2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).
More information from Cambridge University Press

King-Dorset, Rodreguez, Black Dance in London, 1730-1850: Innovation, Tradition and Resistance (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co, 2008). Several brief discussions of Sancho.

King-Dorset, Rodreguez, Black Classical Musicians and Composers, 1500-2000 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co, 2019).

Larson, Pier M., 'Horrid Journeying: Narratives of Enslavement and the Global African Diaspora', Journal of World History, 19: 4 (2008): 431-64. Sancho quoted in the epigraph, but not otherwise discussed.

Le Jeune, Fran&‌ccedil;oise, '"Of a Negro, a Butler and a Grocer" - Ignatius Sancho's epistolary contribution to the abolition campaign (1766-1780)', Etudes Anglaises 43 (December 2008). Argues that 'Ignatius Sancho in spite of his lack of involvement on the question of slavery in the public sphere, was nonetheless preoccupied by it'. Read this article online

Madin, John, 'The Lost African: Slavery and Portraiture in the Age of Enlightenment', Apollo: the International Magazine of Art and Antiques (August 2006), 34-9. Madin argues that the colour portrait often thought to be of Equiano is actually of Ignatius Sancho. Read this article online

Mattes, Mark Alan, 'Penman's Devil: The Chirographic and Typographic Urgency of Race in the Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African', Early American Literature 48:3 (2013): 577–612.

'New Acquisitions: Sancho and Gainsborough', in What's on at Gainsborough's House: June-October 2019 (Leaflet), June 2019. The Gainsborough House Museum in Sudbury, Suffolk, announces its purchase of a copy, in miniature, of the Thomas Gainsborough portrait of Sancho, acquired jointly with the National Portrait Gallery.

Nussbaum, Felicity A., 'Being a Man: Olaudah Equiano and Ignatius Sancho', in Genius in Bondage: Literature of the Early Black Atlantic, ed. Vincent Carretta and Philip Gould (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001), pp. 54-71.
More information from University Press of Kentucky

Nussbaum, Felicity A., The Limits of the Human: Fictions of Anomaly, Race, and Gender in the Long Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). Sancho is discussed at length in various sections of this book; in particular his masculinity is assessed. See especially pp. 194-220.

Parekh, Surya, Black Enlightenment, (Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 2023. A literary study containing a chapter on 'The Character of Ignatius Sancho' that considers Jekyll's biography and a selection of Sancho's letters.
More information from Duke University Press

Pethers, Matthew J., 'Talking Books, Selling Selves: Rereading the Politics of Olaudah Equiano's Interesting Narrative', American Studies, 48:1 (Spring 2007): 101-134. Sancho briefly discussed on p. 126.

Rezek, Joseph, 'The Print Atlantic: Phillis Wheatley, Ignatius Sancho, and the Cultural Significance of the Book', in Early African American Print Culture, ed. Lara Langer Cohen and Jordan Alexander Stein, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), pp. 19-39.

Saillant, John, 'The Invisible Man of Indecency: Profanity and the Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African (1782)' in The Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 43:2 (June 2020): 221-238. Assesses Sancho's use of vulgarity and argues that 'he used sexual innuendo in the manner of Swift, Sterne and London playwrights to spur a number of patrons and benefactors to provide gifts of money, food and other necessities when he had difficulty feeding his children'.

Sandhu, Sukhdev, London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City (London: HarperCollins, 2003). Sancho is mentioned many times in this literary history of black and Asian writing about London. The main discussion is at pp. 26-58.
More information from HarperCollins

Sidbury, James, Becoming African in America: Race and Nation in the Early Black Atlantic (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). See particularly Chapter One: 'Africa and Africans in the Poetry of Phillis Wheatley and the Letters of Ignatius Sancho'.

Smith, Johanna, 'Slavery, Abolition, and the Nation in Priscilla Wakefield's Tour Books for Children', in Discourses of Slavery and Abolition: Britain and its Colonies, 1760-1838, eds. Brycchan Carey, Markman Ellis, and Sara Salih (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), pp. 175-193. Relates Ignatius Sancho to the character of Sancho, an African slave, in Wakefield's Excursions in North America (1806).
[More information from Palgrave Macmillan]

Schamp, Jutta, 'Transfiguring Black and Jewish Relations: From Ignatius Sancho's Letters and Olaudah Equiano's Interesting Narrative to David Dabydeen's A Harlot's Progress' in Ariel: A Review of International English Literature, 40:4 (October 2009): 19-46. As the title suggests, examines Sancho's references to Jews and Judaism.

Whitehead, Angus, '"[...] Books (Fair Virtues Advocates!)": A Quotation from Edward Young Identified in Ignatius Sancho's Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, An African' in Notes and Queries, (December 2007): 482. Also online at Notes and Queries Online

Wiley, Michael, Romantic Migrations: Local, National, and Transnational Dispositions (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). "Wiley's book concludes with an examination of the experiences of Olaudah Equiano, Ottabah Cugoano and Ignatius Sancho..."

Wright, Josephine R.B., 'Ignatius Sancho' in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edn, ed. Stanley Sadie, 29 vols (London: Macmillan, 2001), vol 22, p. 227. Sancho's musical talents are at last recognised by the Grove, although this is a very short entry.


2. Creative Reimaginings

Hepburn, Judy, My Story: Ignatius Sancho (London: Scholastic, 2021). Hepburn's retelling of Sancho's life for children is sensitively handled, fun to read, and generally historically accurate. | [More from Scholastic UK | More information from Amazon |

Joseph, Paterson, Sancho - An Act of Remembrance (London: Oberon Modern Plays, 2011). This drama was first performed at the Oxford Playhouse in September 2011. | More Information from Amazon |

Joseph, Paterson, The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho (London: Dialogue Books, 2022). Historical novel that takes the form of Sancho's lost diaries. | More information from Amazon |

Kamensky, Jane, and Jill Lepore, Blindspot: A Novel (New York: Spiegel and Grau, 2008). Not yet examined. The character Ignatius Alexander in this historical novel is in part inspired by Ignatius Sancho.


3. News Media, Radio, and Television

Alemoru, Kemi, 'Joy Labinjo: "I wanted to correct the notion that Black people arrived in Britain with Windrush"'. Alemoru interviews artist Joy Labinjo on her exhibition of paintings of Black British historical figures, including Ignatius Sancho. In The Guardian, 4 April 2022. Online at The Guardian.

Asim, Jabari, 'Dr. Laura Schlessinger and the N-Word's Long, Painful Trek Through History', in The Wall Street Journal, 20 August 2010. Online at Wall Street Journal Blog. Sancho's part in the history of the 'N-Word'.

'Black History Month: The men who made history in Britain', BBC Newsround, 27 October 2017. Online at BBC Newsround. Contains a very short biography of Sancho to mark Black History Month 2017.

Britain's Black Past: Ignatius Sancho, presented by Gretchen Gerzina. Broadcast BBC Radio 4, 4 October 2016, 13:45–14:00 BST. Radio documentary looking at the Sancho's life and times.

In Search of the Black Mozart, presented by Chi-chi Nwanoku. Broadcast BBC Radio 4, 26 May 2015, 11:30–12:00 BST. Radio documentary examing Sancho's legacy as a composer and mucician.

Kinch, Soweto, 'My Alter Ego: Ignatius Sancho', a 15 minute radio broadcast, 18th October 2010, 15:45 on BBC Radio 4 (UK).

Knapton, Sarah 'Does your handwriting mark you out as a Great Briton?', in The Telegraph, 26 June 2017. Online at The Telegraph Online. One of several articles to appear in 2017 analysing Sancho's handwriting, among others.

Lords Hansard, 5 Mar 2010: Column 1728. Sancho briefly mentioned by Baroness Young of Hornsey in her speech to the House of Lords on the Anti-Slavery Day Bill.

McCrum, Robert, '100 best nonfiction books: No 79 – The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano (1789)' The Guardian, Monday 7 Aug 2017, and online at The Guardian Online. Briefly mentions Sancho as a precursor to Equiano.

'Now, your handwriting may reveal who you really are!', in The Deccan Chronicle, 29 June 2017. Online at The Deccan Chronicle Online. One of several articles to appear in 2017 analysing Sancho's handwriting, among others.

Pettit, Harry, 'Does YOUR handwriting make you a "Great Briton"?' in MailOnline, 26 June 2017. Online at The Mail Online. One of several articles to appear in 2017 analysing Sancho's handwriting, among others.

Rodger, James, 'This is how to tell if your handwriting makes you a genius', in The Birmingham Mail, 30 June 2017. Online at The Birmingham Mail Online. One of several articles to appear in 2017 analysing Sancho's handwriting, among others.

Royal Mail Press Office/Rebecca Maund 'Press Release: Do you write like a 'Great Briton'? 26 June 2017. Online at The Royal Mail. The press release that prompted several articles to appear in 2017 analysing Sancho's handwriting, among others.

Suggs, Ernie, 'C.T. Vivian's vast collection of books to anchor library in his honor', in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. Online at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Online. Sancho's Letters are noted in the collection of C.T. Vivian.

'Tottenham-Based Arts Centre Celebrates 10th Anniversary', The Voice, 19 October 2017, and online at The Voice Online. Notes that 'On November 16 and 17, talented composer and musician Juwon Ogungbe will be presenting evenings of music, dance and spoken life celebrating the life of the famed black writer and composer Ignatius Sancho'.

'What your handwriting reveals about you has been discovered - and you could be a secret genius', in The Mirror, 26 June 2017. Online at The Mirror Online. One of several articles to appear in 2017 analysing Sancho's handwriting, among others.



Ignatius Sancho Main Page logo Twitter link image Mail link image Home link image