Hackney author writes children’s book about Harriet Tubman

PUBLISHED: 10:24 18 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:00 18 November 2019

Sandra being interviewed about her book by Mayo Alubo. Picture: Ozlem Yikici

Sandra being interviewed about her book by Mayo Alubo. Picture: Ozlem Yikici

Ozlem Yikici

Hackney author, poet and story teller Sandra A. Agard, released her first non-fiction book this month.

Sandra signing books at her launch at Shoreditch library. Picture: Miriam NashSandra signing books at her launch at Shoreditch library. Picture: Miriam Nash

It's about the American abolitionist Harriet Tubman who escaped slavery in the mid-19th century and returned to the American south to help hundreds more people find freedom in the north.

Sandra's book, Harriet Tubman: A Journey to Freedom, is part of the Trailblazers series which features factual biographies about inspiring people.

The books are aimed at kids but Sandra's launch last month saw many adults show up interested in Tubman's story.

Initially, the book wasn't going to be published in Britain.

She told the Gazette: "It's part of a world story, it's not [just] an American story.

"She's inspirational! She was enslaved [and] from an early age she thought her lot in life was wrong."

Sandra was asked to write the book because she puts on performances telling audiences about courageous black women like Harriet Tubman or the British abolitionist Mary Prince.

Her Guyanese parents greatly influenced her storytelling and nurtured her love for books and learning and as a child she'd explore libraries all over London.

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"Write, tell your story and read - you have to read. There are so many stories, so many styles so find your style - and find a creative writing workshop," Sandra said.

Her professional writing career started at Centreprise, an iconic Dalston bookshop and intellectual hub in the 1970s which closed in 2012.

It published a collection of poems called Talking Blues taken from a young writer's group which met there every Wednesday.

Sandra remembers: "It went viral at the time. I was the only girl and we put it together ourselves.

"In the 1970s [I was] very into the black art movement. It was so prolific - an incredible time."

But her passion for writing started earlier at school.

"Back in the day you'd get these red exercise books from Ridley Road Market.

"They were five for a pound and had times tables at the back - I loved filling them up. I used to take those to school and read [to the class]," she said.

Sandra is now planning to come out of retirement and hopes to launch a creative writing class.


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