I’ve been kind of obsessed with the history of free Africans in Europe ever since discovering the Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Imagine my delight when I found my favorite fencing master lurking in an amazing poster designed for schools (shared with permission of the artist). There’s something for author I know here. Something wonderful and inspirational. Pick any one of these people and do a little research. Their stories are so worth telling. And they give you absolute free rein to include similar characters in your own work.
Want a little more? Check out Abram Petrovich Gannibal. He was the great-grandfather of Puskin, a Russian general, and the godson of Peter the Great. So there’s a black, European nobleman for you.
Want a little more? How about Sara Forbes Bonetta, Queen Victoria’s black goddaughter.
Want something a little meatier? I also discovered that Black London by Gretchen Gerzina is FREE to download. This is the book that inspired the movie Belle (somewhat loosely inspired, but still!). It’s an absolutely perfect book to read for Black History Month.
Isobel, that poster is fascinating –what a great prize! How did you ever come across it? Thanks also for sharing the tip about Black London. I will definitely be checking that out, and the stories of some of these people. I find it helps so much to have a broad base of information to draw from when creating any sort of character. One of the men in the series I keep working on sporadically is black, and I haven’t done any work on developing him yet!
The artist posted it on Twitter.
So cool! More stuff for the TBR list. Many writers are thinking about about how to work in more diverse characters, but I feel it’s important to do it in a way that is real for the chosen time period. This helps. Lots of good material for authors’ notes too.
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