Tuesday, June 24, 2008

At Her Majesty's Request by Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers in the introduction explains beautifully why I love old books and ephemera. I don't have the time or budget for the dedication that Myers. Therefore I am grateful that he was able to buy Sarah Forbes Bonetta's letters and bring her to life again in this short but fascinating biography, At Her Majesty's Request: An African Princess in Victorian England.

Sarah Forbes Bonetta was the daughter of the slain Egbabo leader as far as accounts go though there is no mention of Sarah's recollection of the first few years of her life. She was slated for ritual execution by her Dahomian raiders but saved as a "gift" for Queen Victoria by some quick thinking on Frederick Forbes's part. He was there attempting to stop the slave trade driven raids.

Frederick Forbes renamed the girl he had rescued to Sarah Forbes (his last name) Bonetta (his ship). The letters and other ephemera that track Sarah's life from her rescue show that she became friends with Queen Victoria. Her friendship though ended up being a major controlling factor in the events of her life.

Myers interjects his own thoughts and feelings on the events of Sarah's life as he understands them. Given how spotty her timeline is, Myers's text helps to segue between the facts. He also includes many of the photographs in the collection that he bought. The photographs though didn't print all that clearly on the paperback I have. They often times aren't much clearer than a black and white photocopy. I would have liked to see more detail on them.

This review is crossposted from my blog.

1 comment:

Heather J. said...

This sounds very interesting - thanks.