Dialogue Books has pre-empted actor Paterson Joseph's debut novel, The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho, an "illuminating and original" novel about the 18th century black writer and composer.
World rights were pre-empted by publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove from Gaia Banks at Sheil Land Associates for publication in October 2022.
Joseph is well known for his career in acting, with TV roles in "Peep Show", "Doctor Who", "Green Wing" and most recently BBC One’s "Noughts & Crosses". He also wrote and starred in the play "Sancho — An Act Of Remembrance" in May 2018 which ran in both London and New York.
In The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho, Paterson charts the life of the little-known maverick and his life in Regency London in what Little, Brown describes as a "witty", "candid" and "characterful" polemic. Born in 1729 on a slave ship, Sancho spent his first two years a slave in Colombia. Sometime between Sancho’s second and third birthday, his owner brought him to England where he worked as a servant in Greenwich before working for the Duke of Montagu. By 1773, Sancho owned a shop in Greenwich. The store front became a meeting place for some of the most famous writers, artists, actors and politicians of the day. Because of his financially independent householder status, he was eligible to vote and, in 1774, he became the first black person of African origin to vote in parliamentary elections in Britain.
Lovegrove said: "Sancho’s story is one that I heard about with relish in my childhood and so was delighted to have the opportunity to read this manuscript. Not only is Paterson Joseph a celebrated actor, he is a wonderful writer and his skill in bringing Sancho’s voice to the fore is poignant, propulsive and passionate! I cannot wait to get started and with the brilliant Dialogue Books team bring this outstanding debut to scores of readers."
Joseph said: "I couldn’t be happier to have found a home at Dialogue Books for my debut novel The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho. I can’t think of a better publisher than Sharmaine Lovegrove, who had been recommended to me by every writer I know whose work I respect and admire. Dialogue’s brave, brilliant and eclectic list is one that I am very privileged to be joining and I look forward to an exciting collaboration with this pioneering company."
Little, Brown's rights department has flagged the book as "a major title" and "valuable property" which "works on so many levels, not just as a poignant, funny, charming novel (and a cracking good read), but as a social document about a Great Black Briton, and as an eye-opener on to black lives in 18th century England. We are so much looking forward to working on it," a spokesperson said.
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