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Wolverhampton Literature Festival: Molineux family slave's life story fires festival

Wolverhampton | Entertainment | Published:

The fascinating story of a slave owned by the Molineux family is the subject of a special event this weekend as part of the Wolverhampton Original Literature Festival.

George Africanus lived in the Molineux Hotel Building – which now houses the city's archives – having been brought there from Sierra Leone as a three-year-old in 1766.

He lived with the Molineux family until they sent him to seek his fortune in Nottingham in 1784.

He prospered and went on to be a businessman, property owner and respected member of the local community, before dying aged 71.

A play about his life was performed at the city's archives in July last year – and now the same venue is hosting a one-off event dedicated to his story.

It will feature the premier of a 30-minute film of the play, called Surnamed Africanus, which will be screened several times on Saturday between 11am and 3pm. It was filmed by Senior Lecturer Phil Nichols and his students at the University of Wolverhampton.

Two other fifteen-minute plays for children, aged seven to eleven, about George Africanus will also be shown on request and there will also be a short documentary about his life.

Dr Jefny Ashcroft, who wrote the play, said: "When the play was performed last year it went down very well.

"The Arts Council were funding me and all 90 people who saw the play were asked for their opinion.

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"About 95 per cent gave very favourable comments. They all said positive things about it which is great.

"I would encourage everyone to come along on Saturday to the George Africanus event."

Wolverhampton's first literature festival features dozens of events across 13 venues from tomorrow until Sunday.

Highlights include award-winning author Sathnam Sanghera, The Wonder Stuff frontman Miles Hunt, and Black Country treasure Doreen Tipton.

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Sathnam Sanghera, a former Wolverhampton Grammar School student, will be in conversation at the city's art gallery on the opening night.

His first book, The Boy With The Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton, is currently being adapted for TV to air on the BBC next autumn.

It was shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Biography Award, the 2009 PEN/Ackerley Prize and named 2009 Mind Book of the Year. Visit www.expressandstar.com to view our guide to the festival.

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