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Dear America Wiki
Not to be confused with Ignatius Sancho (character).

"I have never had a surname, and nobody has ever called me Charles, which is my first name. Only Ignatius, or "Boy". I decide I like the name Sancho. I feel sure the Sancho from the book the sisters mentioned was a nice person, just like me, even if he could not read or write. I'm sure if Don Quixote's Sancho had the chance and wanted to enough, he could have learned his alphabet too. If I get the chance, I learn it for both of us, and for every child who does not have the opportunity."
Ignatius Sancho[2]

Ignatius Sancho is the fifty-fifth book in the My Story series. It is the second book in the series' third relaunch. The book was published on August 5, 2021 by Scholastic UK. It was written by Judy Hepburn, her first book for the series. The book was followed by Princess Sophia Duleep Singh.

The book follows a fictionalized account of the real-life figure, Ignatius Sancho, from the ages of eight to fifty-one.


"For my daughters Marissa and Jessica"

Book description[]

""I have to sit down. I need to wipe my eyes. Imagine, me, the little boy who slaved for the sisters and had to fight so hard to be able to read and write, has become the first black man to have a say in who governs England."
Greenwich 1738, and eight-year-old Ignatius lives with three sisters. But not as a member of their family. He does their bidding without thanks or a smile, always with the possibility of being sent away to a sugar plantation—to endure back-breaking work away from everything and everyone he has ever known.
When the threat of being sent back to the West Indies to be enslaved on a plantation becomes suddenly all too real, will Ignatius be able to escape and start to build a real and brilliant life for himself?


Eight-year-old Ignatius Sancho has been a servant to three sisters, "Oldest Sister," "Middle Sister," and "Youngest Sister," since he was two. The sisters refuse to allow him to learn how to read and write, though he secretly learns the alphabet. One day, Ignatius happens to meet the Duke of Montagu who encourages him to visit his home. Ignatius quickly learns how to read and write as well as etiquette from the Duchess. A few years later, the sisters allow him to attend the frost fair with their new maid, Betsy. The pair end up staying out too late, angering the sisters who fire Betsy. She sticks up for Ignatius before leaving. Though the two lose contact, Ignatius looks back on their friendship fondly.

Ten years later in 1749, Ignatius is now twenty-one and the sisters have begun treating him with more hostility. The Duke passes away in the summer and not long after, Ignatius overhears the sisters' plans to sell him to the colonies. He goes to the Duchess to ask for employment. She initially declines until her butler, Brydges, suggests for him to train Ignatius to be her next butler. The Duchess pays a visit the sisters and likely gives them money for Ignatius. He never sees or hears from them again. Shortly after Brydges' retirement, Ignatius befriends a new hire, named William Powell, who he teaches to read and write. He continues being a butler until the Duchess's sudden death in 1751.

The Duchess leaves Ignatius an annual income, which grants him freedom to do as he pleases for the first time. He spends his days writing and composing music, and later becomes involved in the anti-slave trade movement. Through these meetings he meets Anne Osborne, the sister of his friend John. Ignatius proposes to her in the fall of 1757 and they are soon married. Ten years later, the pair now have three children to feed. Ignatius seeks employment from the new Duke and Duchess of Montagu. Working as the Duke's valet, his family can live comfortably. Meanwhile, Ignatius uses his pen to promote his stance against slavery and becomes well known after his letters to Laurence Sterne are published.

Ignatius's health makes it harder for him to work as a valet, leading to the Duke's suggestion of him becoming a grocer. He sets up a shop on Charles Street, where Ignatius is frequently visited by his friends. The same year, he votes in the general election, becoming the first person of African descent to do so. Five years later, Ignatius's young son Billy is accidentally lost while a riot engulfs London. He is brought back by a labourer, named Pike. Some days later, Ignatius talks about his childhood with Billy, processing some of the incidents for the first time. Not long after, he comes across some letters he wrote years ago as practice. He takes up his pen to write encouraging words to a person reading in the future.

Historical Note[]

The historical note is broken up into ten sections of various lengths. The first, "Author's Note," discusses Ignatius Sancho's writing. After his death, his personal letters were collected into a book which sold out immediately. The next section, "Characters," addresses which characters in the book are fictional or real. "Eighteenth Century London" and "Eighteenth Century Bath" talk about the cities of London and Bath at the time. The frost fairs on the River Thames are touched upon. "Roads and Travel" briefly discusses the bad road conditions of the time. The sixth section, "The Age of Enlightenment," is about the movement of the same name. It mentions Granville Sharp whom appears in the story.

"War and Revolution" and "American Independence" discusses England's conflicts aboard, primarily the Seven Years' War and American Revolutionary War. Slavery in America is also presented. The next section, "The Beginning of the End of the System of Slavery," talks about the slave trade which was abolished in the British Isles in 1807. However, it did not end in the West Indies until 1838. The last section, "Ignatius Sancho's Legacy," further presents Ignatius's accomplishments, such as being the firs black person to vote in the British Isles in 1774. He was also the first black person whose death was recorded in the newspapers. The section also includes a glossary of words common in the eighteenth century.


Main article: List of Ignatius Sancho characters
  • Ignatius Sancho, a kind, good-natured person whom starts the story at eight-years-old. The story follows Ignatius into his old age, showing his passion for learning and abolitionism.


Main article: Judy Hepburn

Judy Hepburn is a British children's author. She contributed to The Place for Me: Stories About the Windrush Generation and wrote Ira Aldridge: The Shakespearean Actor for the I Was There series. Ignatius Sancho is her first book for My Story. Due to him being a real person, Hepburn found it challenging to write the book from Ignatius Sancho's perspective and had to acknowledge that it was "[her] version of him." She wrote the book during the COVID-19 lockdowns.[3]



  • The cover of Ignatius Sancho was illustrated by artist Euan Cook.[5]
  • The book is separated into three sections: "Finding My Voice," "Using My Voice," and "Projecting My Voice."


See also[]

My Story

The Hunger | Voyage on the Great Titanic | The Crystal Palace | Blitz | My Tudor Queen | Twentieth-Century Girl
The Great Plague | The '45 Rising | Civil War | Trafalgar | The Trenches | Battle of Britain | Mill Girl | Transported
Armada | Crimea | Bloody Tower | Indian Mutiny | Zulu War | Mayflower | Agincourt | Suffragette | Waterloo | Slave Girl
Flying Ace | Anne Boleyn and Me | D-Day | Victorian Workhouse | Spy Smuggler | Desert Danger | War Nurse
U-Boat Hunter | The Queen's Spies

1st relaunch

Princess of Egypt | Pompeii | Road to War | Roman Invasion | Viking Blood | Highway Girl | Sophie's Secret War
The Storm to Come | The Sweep's Boy | The Fall of the Blade | Pyramid of Secrets | Factory Girl | Dodger!
No Way Back | Wartime Princess | London Stories | Berlin Olympics | Lady Jane Grey | Nowhere to Run

2nd relaunch

Codename Céline

3rd relaunch

Noor-un-Nissa Inayat Khan | Ignatius Sancho | Princess Sophia Duleep Singh | Mary Prince

My Royal Story

Victoria | Anastasia | Cleopatra | Marie Antoinette | Elizabeth | Mary, Queen of Scots | Henry VIII's Wives

My True Story

What If They Find Us? | Hero at Dunkirk | Standing Alone | Give Us the Vote!