Library:ADCLP/At her majesty's request : an African princess in Victorian England

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At her majesty's request : an African princess in Victorian England / by Walter Dean Myers.


This is the biography of an African princess that is reconstructed from personal letters, official reports, photographs, and diary entries. As a young girl, the princess witnessed the murders of her family and neighbours, was taken prisoner to be used as a human sacrifice, but was saved from death in 1850 by Commander Frederick Forbes. He took the princess, who was christened Sarah Forbes Bonetta, to Queen Victoria in England. Impressed by the princess’ sharpness and intelligence, the queen oversaw her upbringing. Unlike most of the common people in England at the time, Sarah Forbes Bonetta received a good education and occasionally visited the queen and her family. The queen also helped to arrange Bonetta’s marriage to an African missionary and became the godmother to Bonetta’s first child. Sarah Forbes Bonetta lived a remarkable life, but I was unsure as to what parts of her story were based in fact and what parts were merely speculations. For example, I would think that the opening scene of the Dahomian attack on the princess’ village is speculative because of the amount of detail included. Myers’ commentary is supported by ‘evidence’ of the princess’ life (correspondence, diary entries, illustrations, and photographs), which is interspersed throughout the book.

Reading Levels

Ages 13 - 15 / Grades 8 - 10


  • Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2000

Publication History

  • New York : Scholastic, 1999. xii, 146 p. : col. ill. ; 24 cm. ISBN 0590486691