Last revised 19 June 2001
A bibliography of primary literature, accurate to 1994, appears
in the Edwards and Rewt edition of The Letters of Ignatius
Sancho (below), p. 283.
There is no comprehensive printed bibliography of secondary
literature on Ignatius Sancho. Brycchan Carey has produced an
attempt at a comprehensive on-line bibliography at http://pages.britishlibrary.net/brycchan.carey/sancho/biblio.htm.
- Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African, ed.
Vincent Carretta (London and New York: Penguin, 1998). Currently
the standard edition, based on the 1782 first edition, with an
introduction and a wealth of detailed notes. A significant
advance in Sancho scholarship, not least because it makes the
letters widely available for the first time since the early
- Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780): An Early African Composer in
England -- The Collected Editions of his Music in Facsimile,
ed. Josephine R. B. Wright (London and New York: Garland, 1981).
The only modern edition of Sancho's music.
- Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African, to which
are Prefixed, Memoirs of his Life, 2 vols. (London: John
Nichols, 1782). The first edition, a best seller, was followed by
four further editions by 1803.
- Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African, to which
are Prefixed, Memoirs of His Life by Joseph Jekyll, Esq.,
M.P., ed. Paul Edwards (London: Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1968).
A facsimile of the 1803 fifth edition, with an important
introduction and notes by Paul Edwards.
- The Letters of Ignatius Sancho, ed. Paul Edwards and
Polly Rewt (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press, 1994). A new
edition, based on the 1803 fifth edition, with an introduction,
notes and bibliography. The first scholarly edition of the
letters and still an important resource.
- Joseph Jekyll, The Life of Ignatius Sancho (1782). A
short biography, prefixed to every edition of The Letters of
Ignatius Sancho. It appeared anonymously in the 1782 edition
and was not acknowledged to be Jekyll's work until 1803. It
contains everything we know about Sancho's early life and much
that we know about his later life, although as much of this
information has yet to be verified, it must be approached with
- Dictionary of National Biography. Sidney Lee's article
is notable for being the only entry in the Dictionary to
feature a Black British writer. It also highlights a number of
biographical sources other than Jekyll's Life of Ignatius
- Reyahn King, ed., Ignatius Sancho: An African Man of
Letters (London: National Portrait Gallery, 1997). An
excellent collection of four essays produced to mark an
exhibition of Thomas Gainsborough's portrait of Sancho at the
National Portrait Gallery in London in 1997. Contents:
- Reyahn King, "Ignatius Sancho and Portraits of the Black
- Sukhdev Sandhu, "Ignatius Sancho: an African Man of Letters";
- James Walvin, "Ignatius Sancho: the Man and His Times";
- Jane Girdham, "Black Musicians in England: Ignatius Sancho
and His Contemporaries."
Monographs and Articles
Few critical or historical works are dedicated exclusively to
Sancho. When the Sancho material mentioned here forms part of a
longer discussion I have indicated where in the text it can be
- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia
(London: J. Stockdale, 1787). The first English edition (it was
published in the U.S. in 1785), but the book has been reprinted
many times in many places. Jefferson's thoughts on Sancho are
part of "Query XIV" and include the dismissive line that his
writing does "more honor to the heart than the head."
- Wylie Sypher, Guinea's Captive Kings: British Anti-Slavery
Literature of the XVIIIth Century (Chapel Hill: Univ. 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. 149-54 and 285-86.
- J. R. Willis, "New Light on the Life of Ignatius Sancho: Some
Unpublished Letters," Slavery and Abolition 1 (1980):
345-58. Fourteen letters attributed to Sancho. According to
Carretta (Letters of Ignatius Sancho, 1998, p. xxxv),
Willis is unwilling to subject them to scholarly examination, and
so it is difficult to comment on their authenticity or
- Peter Fryer, 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.
- Keith Sandiford, Measuring the Moment: Strategies of
Protest in Eighteenth-century Afro-English Writing (London:
Associated Univ. Presses, 1988). An influential work which
introduces the notion of the "ironic strategy" by which
eighteenth-century Black British writers registered their protest
against slavery while ostensibly remaining within a mainstream
- Paul Edwards, Unreconciled Strivings and Ironic
Strategies: Three Afro-British Authors of the Georgian Era:
Ignatius Sancho, Olaudah Equiano, Robert Wedderburn
(Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press, 1992). A short pamphlet taking
issue with Sandiford and others. It is an important historicist
counterblast to literary approaches to Sancho.
- Gretchen Gerzina, 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, and is
discussed at length on pp. 57-66.
- James Walvin, "In Black and White: Recent Publications on
British Black Writings," Slavery and Abolition 16 (1995):
376-82. A useful round-up of recent literature.
- Markman Ellis, The Politics of Sensibility: Race, Gender
and Commerce in the Sentimental Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge
Univ. Press, 1996). A valuable reading 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.
- Vincent Carretta, "Three West Indian Writers of the 1780s
Revisited and Revised," Research in African Literature 29,
no. 4 (Winter 1998): 73-86. Important round-up of recent
scholarship, including two recently identified letters by Sancho.
- Sukhdev Sandhu, "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.
- Brycchan Carey, The
Ignatius Sancho Page,
a more detailed bibliography, extracts from Sancho's letters,
background material on Sancho's friends and Sancho's London, and
links to resources on the Web.
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