The writers breathing life into black British history

A string of writers are reaching back to the 18th and 19th Centuries to fill in gaps in the story of Britain. In the year that British actress Cynthia Erivo is up for an Oscar for playing US slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman, many of the new plays are examining the slave era from a British perspective.

Find out more about four of the plays and the stories behind them.

The experience of a young black woman in royal circles could hardly be more timely.

But 170 years before Harry met Meghan, there was Sarah Bonetta, a girl who was taken from slavery in Africa by a Royal Navy captain and presented as a gift to Queen Victoria.

“As a child I’d heard of Queen Victoria having a black godchild,” says Janice Okoh, whose new play The Gift includes Bonetta’s story, alongside a fictional modern-day black woman, also called Sarah.

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