Bright Stars of Black British History

Publisher: Thames and Hudson

JT Williams’ Bright Stars of Black British History tells us the extraordinary life stories of 14 Black British people and their contributions to the worlds of literature, theatre, journalism, politics, medicine, sport and music.

The book takes us through Black British History from Romans onwards in detail, mainly via fascinating text-heavy biographies of individuals, and there is also historical context which adds up to a really brilliant, exciting read.  

Among many others, we meet John Blanke, a talented trumpeter at the Tudor court; the amazing Ignatius Sancho, who was a famous letter writer of the 1700s and the first Black man to vote in the UK; and Omoba Aina (also known as Sarah Forbes Bonetta), an African princess who was a royal protégée of Queen Victoria and who was known as a ‘perfect genius’. 

The book is beautifully researched and the stories are told so well by JT Williams, who is also a writer of fiction and knows how to tell a good yarn. The illustrations by Angela Vives are particularly great when you think of how few historical references she had.

This adds up to a brilliantly researched, real treasure trove of a book. And with the news in October 2023 that half of Britons can’t name a single Black historical figure, it’s an important book that should be in every school library.

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