In 1848, a young West African princess, held prisoner for two years by an opposing African kingdom, was rescued from imminent assassination by a British sea captain. The young Yoruba girl learned fluent English and endeared herself to the ship’s captain during the voyage to England. Subsequently, she was presented to Queen Victoria as a “gift.” An intriguing biography by Walter Dean Myers presents “Sarah” as a young woman of exceptional gifts who endeared herself to the royal court, became a ward of Queen Victoria, was placed in an upper-middle-class home, and raised with great privilege—visiting the queen often and developing close friendships with the queen’s children. Still, when it was time for Sarah to marry, it was made clear that she must marry a man of her own race. A marriage to a successful African merchant/missionary was arranged. It is also documented that she was resistant to this inevitable arrangement. Nevertheless, she bore three children, the first of whom she named after Queen Victoria. Upon Sarah’s untimely death, young Victoria was financially supported by, and named a godchild of, the queen.
I am seeking a research partner who can assist with researching the Sarah subject of Walter Dean Meyer's biography, At Her Majesty's Request, and providing general and specific background information about Queen Victoria's court, Africans in Victorian England, the Yoruba culture, and other relevant information. This would be a great experience for a young historian or a future dramaturg. A student with interest in theater—be it history, dramaturgy, playwriting, or directing—would benefit from the relationships I have with theaters and theater professionals across the country.