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Quercus to publish searing memoir of mixed-raced-life in rural Britain

Editorial Director Jane Sturrock has bought UK & Commonwealth rights in Black Sheep by Sabrina Pace-Humphreys. The book was acquired from Sarah Such at the Sarah Such Literary Agency in a fast-paced 4-way auction within days of submission. Quercus plan to publish in hardback in June 2022.

Sabrina Pace-Humphreys – a 43-year-old mother of four and grandmother of two – is an award-winning businesswoman; an ultrarunner who finished the ‘toughest footrace on earth’, the Marathon des Sables as the 11th UK woman; a social justice activist and a recovering alcoholic.

Sabrina is a mixed-raced woman, racialised as Black, the daughter of a white Scottish roman catholic woman and a Black church of England man. When she was two, her parents separated and Sabrina, her mother and her white-presenting younger sister moved to a small market town where no one looked like Sabrina. From as young as she can remember, she was the subject of verbal and physical racist abuse.

In Black Sheep, Sabrina reveals how she got from there to here: about growing up in a home, a school and a town where no-one looked like her and her subsequent struggle to understand and find her identity; about her lived experience of rural racism; about becoming a teenage mother and her determination to break that stereotype; about her battle with alcoholism and her management of  mental health conditions including anxiety and depression; about how running saved her life; and ultimately about how someone can not only survive but thrive in spite of their past.

Sabrina’s experience will chime with anyone who has felt like an outsider. Poignant and eye-opening, and exploring themes of trauma, identity, mental health and addiction, Black Sheep is a tale of triumph: of grit and determination, of hope over despair.

Jane Sturrock said: ‘Black Sheep is the moving and inspiring story of a woman who has long surpassed the expectations others had of her. Sabrina is an extraordinary woman and in sharing her experience of growing up as a mixed-race woman in rural Britain, Sabrina is shining a light on a part of the conversation about racism in this country that is often forgotten about or ignored: rural racism.’

Sabrina Pace-Humphreys said: ‘The murder of George Floyd last year was the spark that opened up a Pandora’s box of locked-in trauma for me. Committing a series of stories to paper, re-living them and understanding more fully how rural racism impacts on the lives of people of colour who live ‘in the sticks’ continues to be my powerful journey, and one that I feel is important to share with those who want to better understand how racism affects those living in rural spaces.’

‘But stories of triumph are important too. A balance must be reached. And my dream is that my stories of hope in the face of adversity inspire readers to strive forward in greatness. I am so happy to be entering into this publishing relationship with Quercus, a publishing house who work with other Black authors who inspire me and are leading voices on issues of racism and its impact on them personally and wider communities. I feel my book is in the best possible hands.’


Notes to editors

  1. In 2020, Sabrina co-founded the community and campaigning group, Black Trail Runners – a volunteer-led organisation that works to increase the representation of people of colour in trail running. She was also invited to be a founder member of the British Athletics RACE Equality Network and regularly co-hosts ‘The Checkpoint’ – a bi-weekly podcast sharing the stories of people of colour, and white allies, who engage in sport at elite and amateur level and are working to improve equality, diversity and inclusion for under-represented – and often ignored – groups.
  2. Instagram handle for Sabrina Pace-Humphreys is @sabrunsmiles


For further information please contact Hannah Robinson – hannah.robinson@quercusbooks.co.uk