Papillote picks up 'radical' novel from Caribbean writer Scott

Papillote picks up 'radical' novel from Caribbean writer Scott

Indie Papillote Press has picked up a “radical and moving” new historical novel from Caribbean writer Lawrence Scott.

Publisher Polly Pattullo bought world rights, excluding translation, for Dangerous Freedom from Johnson & Alcock. It will be published in May 2020 and distributed by NBN International.

The book weaves together fact and fiction to retell the story of Dido Belle, the mixed race daughter of an African-born slave and the sea-faring nephew of Chief Justice Lord Mansfield who grew up at Kenwood House in the late 18th Century.

Its synopsis explains: “Dido Belle was the daughter of an African-born slave and the sea-faring nephew of Lord Mansfield. She was freed only on Mansfield’s death and became Elizabeth D’Aviniere on her marriage. Scott imagines Elizabeth’s adult world where she reflects on her disturbed childhood and fears for her own children’s safety at risk from slave catchers. Above all, she yearns for her lost mother. Why did she no longer write? Had she, too, been recaptured? The novel builds to a powerful denouement as the events of Elizabeth’s past engage with the traumas of her present.”

Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-winner Scott, whose 1993 Trinidad-set debut Witchbroom (Papillote) became a BBC Book at Bedtime, said: “In Dangerous Freedom I am trying to redress what I see as the romantic portrayals of Dido in art, film and literature. I wanted to question the sketchy history we have of Dido and, through fiction, to alter the psychological and political perspectives. I hope that the novel can add to our understanding of a pain that remains just below the surface of contemporary life.”