A playwright has written a book lifting the lid on 500 years of black history in Kensington and Chelsea.

Vanessa Walters, 30, a former writer in residence of the Royal Borough, has penned the publication of forgotten stories stretching back into Elizabethan times.

She explained: "This is the first time there's been a book looking at borough history prior to the Windrush generation - who immigrated to the borough in the 1940s and 50s. This book is about showing that there is a lot more history around."

Ms Walters explained that it is thought some of the first black residents of the Royal Borough were brought over to Chelsea from the Caribbean by the explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, while Elizabeth I was on the throne. Unfortunately, when Sir Walter lost favour with the Royals they were locked up in the Tower of London during the ill-fated noble's 12-year prison stretch.

Other famous black figures include the unfortunate Sylvia Woodcock, who was murdered in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, in the late 1700s by a callous lover. He married another woman just two days after bludgeoning her to death and was sentenced to hang at the Old Bailey.

Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole is also buried at St Mary's Cemetery, which lies beside the Kensal Green Cemetery, in North Kensington, while black nationalist Marcus Garvey lived in Beaumont Crescent, West Kensington, from 1935 to 1940.

In the book, historical fact is interspersed with poems and plays written by Ms Walters - a respected literary figure who will be putting on a play at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill this November. She made regular trips to the Pepperpot Centre, which provides lunch for older Caribbean residents in Thorpe Close, North Kensington, to research the novel.

She said: "Honestly, I spent so much time in Kensington and Chelsea I should have brought my sleeping bag. But it was worth it. Everyone should be proud of their heritage."

The free book, which is called Smoke! Othello!, is in libraries and will soon be available at Waterstones in Kensington High Street and Notting Hill Gate.