Gresham College Lectures

Writing After Windrush

October 11, 2023 Gresham College
Gresham College Lectures
Writing After Windrush
Show Notes Transcript

They came, they saw, they felt conquered. 

Turning to the later works of Samuel Selvon and George Lamming, and the writing of Andrew Salkey, Edward Kamau Brathwaite, and Linton Kwesi Johnson, this lecture will reflect on the aesthetics of Caribbean emigrant authors. 

Considering how the form of their works reflected a changing Britain in the 1960s-80s, it will explore how their motifs, and themes of fragmentation and rupture, signal the emergence of a new Black British consciousness.

A lecture by Dr Malachi McIntosh recorded on 3 October 2023 at Barnard's Inn Hall, London

The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website:

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I wanna begin this talk running after Win Rush in the past, and I want to move into the past. If we can imaginatively as a collective first, imagine all of us together, sort of journeying back to a moment in time to stand on the sidelines and watch as spectators. Specifically, I want us to go back to a Friday evening in late August, 1958 to Ladi Road Tube Station, where if you imagine us altogether observing, we see a Swedish woman named Mag Morrison falling into an argument with her Jamaican husband, Raymond, as they leave the underground station. We watch as people congregate, as a Morrison's dispute grows steadily more heated, their conflict is suddenly transformed. Kind of, you know, a a little lover pact when a man in the crowd begins shouting racial slurs at Raymond Morrison, apparently believing that it's his duty to protect a white woman from a threatening black man. I want us to imagine ourselves there again and noting Hill near the tube station, watching this couple arguing where a man intervenes and see Madrid stop arguing with her husband and turn to defend him from the attacker, which leads some members of the now gathering crowd to turn on her and call her a series of racial slurs. A group of the Morrisons West Indian friends then gather arriving at the scene at the Tube station in Notting Hill, where we stand on the sidelines and watch and begin shouting themselves. As the shouting then escalates between the two groups, between the couple, between all who are spectating and around, and the fight breaks out up. Fast forward the next night, we're all still there, and watching crowds spill out of local pubs in Notting Hill, we watched some spot match Brit Morrison from the night before on our way home down the high street, a group of people suddenly chasing her back to her house, volleying, a series of taunts and insults and racial slurs and throwing milk bottles. When Morrison stands her ground and refuses police orders to go inside, the police have now arrived. We watch a she rather than the members of the marauding crowd is arrested. Then we watch the crowd grow and grow and spread. What followed the verbal and physical attacks on the Morrisons, which were real events that took place in Notting Hill were, as some of you might know, several days of rioting. Maring bands of mostly young men's spread on, not least by the fascist Oswald Mosley's calls for them to quote, take action now, protect your jobs, stop colored immigration, flooded onto the streets seeking any Caribbean migrants. They could find any others, visible others they could spot. Some of these young men were armed with iron bars. Some had Molotov cocktails, some according to a handful of reports, had butcher's, knives, they smashed the windows of houses. Caribbean people lived in broke items, identified as owned by them and attacked many on the streets. It wasn't until the Caribbean people themselves fought back on mass also now armed that the writing stopped. I want us to make one more stop as a collective joining back into the past together to sit on the edge of something as spectators fast forward from the events we just recalled to just under one year later, back in noting hill again a second time, the 17th of May, 1959. It's just after midnight, Having had his finger, which had broken at work re plastered at the local hospital, the Antiguan Carpenter, Kelso Cochran is walking home. We all of us see him close in on the house where he shared a room with his partner, Olivia. When a gang of young white men surround him, they call him many names, punch him, push him, thump him, and then stab him in the heart. When he collapses, they run away. We see two black men walking nearby, rush over a taxi stops Cochran's picked up and put in the cab, be ride with them to the hospital. But by the time we arrive, councilor Cochran has stopped breathing. We leave and overhear someone calling reporter at the Sundays Express. And they say, and I quote, three, white youth have stabbed a darkie named Cochran. The stories I want to tell you, the works I want to introduce you to today are in some cases I think re-familiarize you with emerged from emerge out of the wake of those two events, which I just described, and which we all imaginatively witnessed. There are two moments which didn't themselves transform the lives of Caribbean people in Britain and their descendants, but which to borrow the words of a to literary scholar, Matthew Mead marked what he calls an alteration in the British imaginary by that he means, or by that, I mean, I imagine barring the term that these two events demonstrably shifted the narrative in circulation in the era about England, about the territories then referred to as the West Indies about safety in the quote unquote mother country, about the true composition of the English nation, about the legacies of the colonial era, about immigrants and residents, about blackness and whiteness in ways the targets of those attacks kept with them for generations. But before turning to the works, I want to introduce you to and turning into what follows, I would like to briefly just say thank you, um, thank you first of the organizers for inviting me to speak today in this relatively grand, seemingly very in flammable venue. Um, thank you very much to the audience for all of you, for taking a chunk of your evenings to spend some time with me here talking to and with and at you tonight. Um, and thank you, very importantly for what I have to say to two scholars who are named Heme Sani and John McLeod, who provided the inspiration for this talk and in their recent work sort of invited us scholars, general readers, the general public thinkers of all kinds to return to and rethink the win rush and what it means in this the 75th anniversary year of the arrival of Britain's most famous decommissioned troopship. So I borrowed my title writing after Ache from both of them again, he may, Sarah Conney John McLeod In the recent issue of Wasfi, which again, full disclosure, I used to edit, um, called Writing the Scandal. Sarah Conney and McLeod invite us to think anew about those now dubbed the Win Rush generation in their introduction to this special issue. They know how Win Rush as a concept has been uniquely mobile in Britain, but has come again in the 75th anniversary year, this anniversary of the arrival of the ship, the famous disembarkation to be tainted and transformed into a kind of shorthand for national shame in their words. Win Rush has, and this is a quotation name, the wider generation of arrogance from the once colonized countries. In post-war years, it has been mobilized, as was the case in the 1998 50th anniversary celebrations to proclaim and amplify the history of multiracial Britain's irresistible rise has been appropriated via the government sponsored wind Rush Day events each June as an officially branded symbol of migrants and migrant descended contribution to national life. And it's been positioned as in Danny Boy's 2012 opening ceremony for the Olympic Games, which some of you may recall. Um, a very sort of dramatic moment in that ceremony as a proud vessel of Britain's collective evolution. Again, just recalling that 2012 ceremony, some of you may have seen it, some of you frighteningly might have been too young to see it, which is a bit scary. Um, we had this huge pageant of activity, um, taking place on this massive stage, um, at the opening of the Olympics. And then there's a moment where this reconstruction of the win rush is escorted out into the center of, I believe it was a stadium. And then from that moment on, there's a kind of change in the composition of Britain. It functions a kind of catalytic moment of alteration in the composition of the state. So name the wider generation of rods mobilize to proclaim and amplify the history of multi-racial Britain appropriated as an official branded symbol of migrant and migrant descended contribution to national life. And a sign, uh, a single symbol of a proud vessel of Britain's collective evolution. So far, so positive. However, in the same introduction, they note how the term win Rush has gathered new meaning in recent years, primarily through their publicity of what many of you will know of, uh, around the work of guardian journalists, Amelia gentlemen who expose this what's now called the win rush scandal of deportation of people with a right to live in Britain, citizens of Britain to the Caribbean. In the wake of them not being able to provide papers to show that they had a right to reside. It was this moment, the deportation scandal, um, one slice or spoke of a broader government initiative called the Hostile Environment, which is worth pausing to stand and reflect on, especially in the light of the way we're thinking of the legacies of some recent politicians in the country. So hostile environment was an umbrella term for a series of policies and initiatives, inaugurated by then home secretary and future Prime Minister Theresa May, in and around the passage of the 2014 Immigration Act. And on the screen is an image of deportation vans, which were part of a publicity comp, uh, campaign called Operation Back in launched in 2013, the 24 14. So the year after Immigration Act was a kind of landmark in the way that it figured and frames the status of migrants in Britain. Firstly, enforcement of the act was all focused on removal and uniquely within the sort of sphere of government legislation. You can look this act up online, there's some lecture notes where I've included the U R L, um, it's first section, the first paragraph is about removal. Um, so not about anything to do with settlement or status or change of status or support or anything like that. It's about getting people out. Enforcement, um, was focused on removal, as I said, and led to thousands of detentions, deportations, and several deaths. It brought for the first time regular citizens within the regime of, uh, immigration control, placing an onus upon landlords and n h s worker workers to checklist status of the people they worked with to see if they were allowed to be in Britain, if they should be eligible for the services they provide based on the citizenship status. The win rush scandal then was a, an emanation of that and quoting an interview with the author Kale Phillips in the special issue in the introduction of may reference to they say this is a quote, win rush. Once signified a frustratingly false and congratulatory mythology, it stood for a de historicized narrative of national uplift and perceived multicultural unanimity. That story erased a much longer history of hostility toward migrants and newcomers and wind. Rushe can no longer serve as an emblem of a fantasy multicultural bliss. In their special issue is two scholars invite us to use wind rush to lens through which to view and review the history of migration to Britain, to use this quote, a a space or a means of critical reflection and interrogation to think simultaneously through win rush of the multicultural dream. And the night terrors have always accompanied it. For the rest of this talk, I want to follow their call and allow the after in my title to echo as loudly as the wind rush to us to create space for us again as a collective to think together about the after, about the post, about the what happens in the wake and how that presses on and reshapes our understanding of the thing that precedes and forces reconsideration of the initiating event. Therefore, how what happens after something necessarily alters the way we see the event itself together. I wanna do some brief work to reawaken ourselves to life in the 1950s, sixties and seventies in Britain for Caribbean people and for the H M T Windrush itself. And what it's come to symbolize, I want to think of the fates of the human beings behind the infinitely reproduced still images, the postcard snapshots of men in suits and hats, and women in their Sunday best on gang planks, on peers, and getting onto trains. And off to before that, though, it's necessary to drop in a significant piece of prehistory to which the arrival of the wind rush itself is an after. And that piece of prehistory is the many centuries of Caribbean colonization. It's always important to highlight, I think, when talking about the Caribbean. And as Sophie said, I'm kind of a scholar of Caribbean literature and necessarily dip into Caribbean history. It's necessary when you speak about the Caribbean, always within the context of colonialism to highlight how significantly different the Caribbean colonial effort was from other efforts of Colonialization else colonization elsewhere in the world. Um, the most succinct, and it's not that succinct quotation about this that I've found come from, comes from an anthropologist named Sidney Minz. And he, and this is a long quotation, said that the colonies in the Caribbean were not erected upon massive indigenous bases in areas of declining great literate civilizations. As were true in India and Indonesia. There were not mere points of trades like Macau or Shanghai, where ancestral cultural hinterlands could remain surprisingly unaffected in spite of the exercise of considerable European power. There were not tribal mosaics within which European colonizers carried on their exploitation, accompanied by some curious vision of a civilizing mission as in Congo or New Guinea. Nor were there areas of intense European settlement where new forms of European culture provided an acultural anchor for other newcomers, as in the United States or Australia. They were in fact, the oldest industrial colonies in the west, outside of Europe and fitted to European needs with particular intensity and pervasiveness. I just wanna linger on this quotation for a little, uh, for a moment. So again, he's, um, almost defining the Caribbean through a kind of antithesis what it isn't and what is unique about the space. So the islands of the sort of two arch arch chains of the Caribbean, the Windward and Leeward islands, and also the border areas, places now named Belize, the Guyanas, um, and so on, were territories which played a very different role within the colonial world for a variety of European powers. The main ones in the area being the English, the French, and the Dutch. They played a very different role from colonies in Africa, in Asia and Southeast Asia and, and elsewhere there were industrial, he says, and I take that as meaning, that their sole purpose, much like a factory, was to maximize wealth by facilitating trade. These islands and littoral zones were settled by successive European powers in the wake of the genocide of local people aux and tinos and Mein Indians, native Americans brother by another name and the ide of local flora and other non-human fauna in order to make space for an unprecedented extraction enterprise. And it can't be underscored. The extent to which what was happening in the Caribbean was something singular. These places were, um, cleared of most native flora and fa fauna repopulated with cast crops. And then those cast crops for several centuries were extracted and extracted and extracted people, animals, land resources across the islands and the bordering shorelines were rearranged and remade to maximize commodity output. In production of cast crops, including, and especially sugarcane, took precedence over the welfare of the majority population, composed first of enslaved men, women, children and infants with origins across Africa, and later their descendants and descendants of indentured servants who were brought in to replace their labor. So some of you'll know this may view might not in the Caribbean after emancipation, understandably many formerly enslaved people left plantations and refused to return, although at the time that was framed as laziness, when now in the 2020 first century might be able to look back and think, well, maybe I wouldn't want to go back to the place where I was exploited. So to replace that labor, uh, people from Asia in particular South Asia, were shipped over to the Caribbean as indention servants. It was seen as a the most cost effective way to get the plantations back up and running. Um, and between people with af of African descent and Asian descent, these are the majority populations in the Caribbean and have been for quite some time. So because of local exploitation, the circumstances of repopulation and the effects of overpopulation mortality rates in the area have always, were always extremely high because people did backbreaking day long labor and tropical conditions. So they were always overpopulated. They wanted to be an excess or surplus of labor to replace people who were regularly passing away because of repopulation, the effects of overpopulation to meet labor needs. Caribbean people were and have been as long as it had been reported in history mobile, in circulation, in and beyond the region, there have been immigrants, migrants, displaced peoples who in the English speaking regions, which are our focus for today. So those areas colonized by England to advantage of opportunities after World War ii to journey to what they understood to be the mother country England itself. So there's an earlier lecture in this Gress Gresham series available online on the website called The Win Rush Writers and Artists that covers the ground of what happened next for those who came to England after 1948. Effectively three things occurred. That lecture says, hopeful arrival to a well-known but little settled mother country, the discovery of some real opportunities for work and to establish lives and families, enterprises and communities, and then disillusionment at a hostile response, hope, discovery, disillusionment. I'm interested today primarily in the third thing, So writing of his feelings about the noting hill riots in their immediate aftermath. In his 1960 book, the Pleasures of Exile, Barbadian Novelist, George Laing claimed that in the wake of the event, we must accept quotation, must accept that racial antagonism in Great Britain is after Notting Hill. An atmosphere and a background are against which my life and yours, that of the soon reader of any background are being lived. And this is lambing, And this is the Pleasures of Exile, but a new addition. He describes how after the event, after what he calls the sirens of Notting Hill, he began to watch himself around white English people in a way he had never before. In a way he imagines the English move through life on high alerts, hyper aware of potential attack after and around the blitz. Lemming wasn't in the words of his contemporary, the better known now, I think writer Samuel Salvan, a quote, hustling immigrant in a factory. He was an emissary of a very educated Caribbean elite in his native Barbados where he was born. And in Trinidad where he spent the formative years of his life as a young man, he belonged to a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the local society. He was a scholarship boy, so the recipient of a paid for education and an elite school in the region, something only very, very few people could be something that could do. He was trained at one of the regions better institutions and completed his education there, which was a, a rarity as well. And also even more rare, was he was a writer. He was therefore birth in the Caribbean and in Britain, a member of the elite in Britain. Specifically, he was through links forged across the Atlantic and the London publication of Alloted first novel called In the Castle of My Skin, a frequent contributor to the B B C and the recipient of multiple prizes in fellowships, lambing a member of the elite, a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of Caribbean society at home. And also here, his outraged response to Notting Hill signals. The extent for me at least, to which to this event in 1958, was a leveler regardless of your backgrounds, your potential, your accolades, your social stature, your intelligence, everything lambing like his contemporaries, writers and workers, all visual outsiders became a part of a single putatively threatening, but actually threatened mass. Let me call this book The Pleasures of Exile, a quote, Frank and authentic indictment of the English consciousness. And in it he compares himself in England to the murdered Kelso Cochran, a fellow Caliban confronting an English prospero, both terms taken from Shakespeare's tempest prosper being sort of exiled magician, Caliban exile, Touba Islands, Caliban being his effectively enslaved servant whose net native to the island. Lemming presents himself as a Caliban and England as the Prospero. He says, in spite of our differences in fortunes, the West Indian kosso Cran, who's murdered in Knotting Hill, is an eternal part of the writing. Caliban himself, who has at least warned Prosper England, that his privilege of absolute ownership is over. So he creates a kinship between the two of them, but distinguishes himself as someone with access to the means to communicate frustration at the status quo. That said, destabilizing effects of the riots and their aftermath are evident in Ming's work from the moments almost the moment after they occur. So 1960, the Pleasures of XL 1958, the riots from 1960 on the taint of the riots is everywhere in Laing's writing his literary career begins again with Sephora mentioned and much praise. 1953 novel in the Castle. My Skin, again, a newer edition just because I like the cover a bit more than the original <laugh>. Um, if you know George Lambing, you probably know this work. What it is, I guess in summary is a kind of mournful reminiscence of his childhood in Barbados. It's a semi autobiographical novel. It focuses on a young boy named g g for George, for lambing, um, and his small slightly peripheral community just outside of Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. The community is represented in various ways. It's kind of stuck in time, um, trapped in amber, almost in stasis. Um, and as the book moves through, the stasis state is shattered as the community begins to decay. And that decays linked directly to the and deprivations of, of Colonial rule. However, despite that pessimistic tone in relationship to the community itself called Keratins Village, um, we have in the character the protagonist, g a sort of strain or undertone of hope. So Gene, a bit like Leming is a promising scholar. He has potential and at the end of the novel, he is in a position to migrate away from his home, and he contemplates reflecting, written in the 1950s on the condition of black people in the United States on the role he might be able to play when he returns to help those who are local. Lehman's later post Knotting Hill works slips steadily away from any real strains of hope. They slide into a kind of abject pessimism where the Caribbean is represented as a hopeless space as much as it is in the very first novel. But also England is increasingly represented as equally hopeless. It becomes a place that Labing describes in the pleasures of exile, that is a quote unquote dubious refuge. His novelistic reflections on England climax with a book called Water With Berries, which I assume many of you do not know, it was out of print for a very, very long time, but has recently been reissued as a Caribbean modern classic by the lead space publisher, people Tree Press. So it's now available again. Water with Berries is an elusive and very strange novel. And I think the cover from People Tree, which is kind of hard to necessarily discern what it's an image of is a perfect representation of, of this novel and how it functions. It's its artistry and also it's concerns at the heart of the novel are three Caribbean artists who are the shared protagonists. All of them are involved in relationships, mixed relationships with, with white women of various ages in various ways. So one, the central relationship is a love relationship. One, it's a colleague, and in the other it's a landlady. So, uh, someone lives in a room, in a, in a rented house. And all of those relationships in various ways, very specific to the characters who, who have them on both sides. And in tragedy, the final passage in the book describes one of the character's attempts to escape the catastrophe he's experienced in England, which is a result of the, the dismantling of the, the fracturing of this relationship in the following way. So these are lemmings words. He was crouching near the last ridge of Heather. This is him trying to escape a crab among rocks. And in all George Lemmings work, crabs are always symbols of, of, um, vulnerability is his, the crab is his most frequent metaphor for a vulnerable person is like a crab who's crouching near the last ridge of Heather, a crab among the rocks. He was moving on claws. He could hear his hands scraping through the dark. His fists were smashing through the crust of the night. His chest was an apron of bone. He had ceased to feel the pebble and gravel of the earth. He's disconnected from the earth. He was coming up sucking for air. He was on his stomach, a crab in flight, crawling through a roaring tunnel of wind near he was moving forward and so near he had come to the end of his safety moving forward. And so near, so a sense of, of almost like, um, if you know, mass and absent of lamb that never quite reaches the bottom. It's this idea of sort of straining towards something, but incapable of reaching it, which will be important for us later. We see a similar term to this kind of hopeless representation in the works of Lemmings contemporaries, two friends of his, actually Samuel Sulin and Andrew Salki for Sullivan, again, probably the better known of the two these days. His rollicking career defining tragic comic novel. The lonely Londoners is followed by writing that is ambivalent about life in his native Trinidad and Tobago and disdainful, the posturing and discrimination that makes up for life makes up life for Caribbean people in England. Sullivan's final novel, Moses migrating also I think now out of print, offers this disdain in an absurd farcical narrative that presents its protagonist who's an outsider in London and in Trinidad as a rootless hybrid who cannot be accepted anywhere. So for those of you who've read the Lonely Londoners, you know, one of the many motley of characters is a, a a a Trinidadian migrant named Moses, who in the book, which is about kind of a collective of, of migrants, mostly from the Caribbean, but not exclusively who land up in London in the 1950s and effectively get into a series of adventures. Um, uh, some comic against some tragic Moses is the almost pillar figure. He is like the central hub of the spokes of narrative and characters in the book. He's a stable figure, presented in slightly bittersweet terms. In Moses migrating, we take the same character and this book comes out some, um, almost three decades later and change him and, and alter him almost completely, where in the earlier novel, he's sort of sanguine stable the father figure for this group of men in the later novel, he's a, a farce, this person who's attempting to adopt the stars and dress and mannerisms and speech of England, but failing completely, who's then invited on a trip back to Trinidad. And his, his kind of bizarre hybridity is as out of place there as it is in London where he lives. Moses in the book, is constantly stuck in between groups and he ends the novel outside of England and outside of Trinidad, trapped symbolically in an immigration queue at Heathrow with nothing meaningful to declare and Andrew So's work. The loss of hope and the ability for Caribbean immigrants to feel at home abroad is similar to that in Salvan and Laming, but even more acute S's first novel comes later than the other two, or his first England set novel. He has one set in Jamaica beforehand, it's called Escape to an au pavement published in 1960, and it's unapologetically focused on the middle class immigrant set to which Salki himself belonged. Again, that fraction of a fraction of a fraction of society, which is where Lamming was as well, uniquely in its era. This book, which is in print, this is just the original cover, um, explored queer desire and cast a critical eye on transnational black culture, which was a, you know, relatively radical in 1960, is protagonist named Johnny is Mobile in all Senses, and he flits across the course of the novels narrative between lovers and locales. He's disillusioned, kind of angry young men, man style characters similar to the works of some Masaki English contemporaries at the time, I'm thinking of Soto and others. He's disillusioned, he's angry at authority, but he possesses it's clear on the novel, kind of untapped potential. He's, you know, a kind of boy who could make goods if he really tries kind of character. At the end of the book, we find Johnny sort of wandering the streets of London after the book's events and trying very hard not to spoil any of these books for you so that you might want to pick them up later. But anyway, at the end of the novels events, we find Johnny sort of wandering the streets of West London, um, and what will happen to him, what his fate might be. I think for most readers feels relatively uncertain, unsettled, as it were, rather than uncertain. But inaki later, in my opinion better. But now out of print novel, the adventures of Als Kelly published in 1969, also set in London. He instead presents a Jamaican immigrant like Johnny, who performs a very different role, rather than Johnny being this person again in 1960, having some potential, being a bit lost, he offers us a another Jamaican immigrant character who is stereotypical, who is frustrated, who is trapped, and who in the novel, which is one of the reasons I think it's still out of print, performs the role of a sexually rampant sort of black stud, an almost blaxploitation stereotype over the course of the adventures with Ellas Kelly. While there are other things happening in the narrative, ellas comes from Jamaica to find out about English culture. This is supposedly my hand working its way through the narrative, which is maybe a bit of a strange thing to me in my hand, like a saw. So this is the beginning, this is the end. This is the things that are happening, um, as he sort of, uh, meanders through the narrative. He is in England to find out about English culture supposedly in a sort of anthropological role, but he also in the course of the book, is constantly having sexual relationships with women. While at first it seems that he's in control of these many couplings and triplings, uh, exclusively with white women in London, I think with one exception, it becomes obvious that his lovers are exploding him. What feels like power at the start of the novel, we realize by the middle of the novel is actually weakness. One of his lovers even GOs him significantly during a sexual encounter if at the time he's thinking this is a quote of the Negro in Birmingham, Alabama, of your countrymen. In Nottingham and importantly of not hill Kyle slowly loses his grip on reality, and at the end of the novel, he's left symbolically rather than literally impotent written in 1960 as race, race tensions continue to escalate, escape to an non pavement, tries to think past the pressures of its time of 1969, the year of the adventures of Catal Kelly, for which we don't have a cover thinking past this precious for salki seems to have become impossible. In the after wind rush writings of these three figures, we see a kind of melancholia, a longing for fully welcoming England that could have been perhaps should have been post-war. It's a hope for which noting hill for all three of them explicitly seems to have taken away. It's a way of thinking about Caribbean life in Britain. Its possibilities as replicated in interviews with these writers'. Contemporaries again, they're from a unique social fraction, but if you look back at accounts and on the reading list, uh, one of the, the works I Is Journey to An Illusion by Donald Hines, which includes interviews with Caribbean migrants to Britain. Um, there's a recent book also by, uh, Colin, uh, James maybe, um, which is a, a collection of interviews with Caribbean migrants. So you see a similar sentiment replicated in again, the the workers and, and and others who were in Britain at the time, um, this loss of hope. So in the novelist work specifically, we have many symbols and motifs of stuckness, of stasis, of destabilization of drift, as well as a range of arresting and distorted representative forms. The world systems theorist Emmanuel Wallerstein has written about the tendency of social systems and social structures in their final throes to bifurcate, to splinter, and then strain chaotically for new solutions to the problems they've created before they finally break. And again, social systems and structures when they're reaching the end of their life start to crack. They can't sustain their own promises and their search for solutions in a kind of frantic way. Um, before, before they collapsed. We see something very similar in the search for aesthetic solutions aesthetic, which is hard to save the braces in the Arun rush writings of Lambing Salki and Samuel Salvan in their writing. In those works I mentioned, we find wild, sometimes thrilling experiments in search for form to capture the impasses in which they saw themselves in their contemporaries as being stuck within in the words of Virginia Wolf in a very different context, talking about her own search for a form to represent her era and her own feelings. We find in these after Wind Rush writers works, which include failures and fragments because, and this is wolf where so much strength is spent on finding a way to tell the truth, the truth itself is bound to reach us in rather than exhausted and chaotic condition in a context of rising hostility to Britain's visibly migrant backgrounds. In the 1950s, sixties, seventies and eighties, the literary establishment had less and less tolerance for the truth that these writers had to offer. Among the most promising writers of their generation, which their contemporary reviews can attest to the early reviews of the worker are unbelievably glowing. Um, and one of the sort of wonderful discoveries, um, of my research is going into the archives of the Times, the spectator, the, um, literary times literary supplement and reading, just how sort of enthused and enamored critics of the fifties and sixties were with the writings of these figures absolutely in love with them. But despite that initial promise as they switched to writing about the contemporary situation in Britain and experimenting with form, all three of them slipped to the fringes of the British literary sphere. Their disillusionment ultimately leaving, leading to departure and not symbolic departure, actual departure, having all arrived in Britain in the 1950s, lambing, salki and salvan each in their own circumstances, each in their own ways, departed for the Americas to find more receptive publics in the following decades. And as alluded to, two of the three works I mentioned are now completely out of print. In a move toward a conclusion, I want to take us all back to another sign in history again as a collective and again as spectators to slip back into a past, but to a time much closer to ours. It's a soggy 14th day of March, 1981. We all of us stand on the banks of the Thames and watch an estimated 20,000 people from across Britain coming to the end of an over eight hour march from New Cross South London that will snake its way through Hyde Park, via Fleet Street and the Houses of Parliament. The marches, all 25, 20,000 of them are chanting under demanding justice, 13 dead and nothing said they chant. Blood had go run. If no justice come, they chant, what do we want? Freedom, when do we want it carrying road with red banners? They march. The fabric on the banners marched with the names of 13 young people killed in a fire at 4 3 9 New Cross Road just two months before there's a special energy in the marches and urgency to their protest. Many, like all the victims of the fire are Britains most like all of the victims of the fire are black despite the ages of those who dies in the fire at 4 3 9 New cross road and the suddenness of their loss. No condolences had been expressed by politicians or the press, despite the police first to the scene stating there were signs of fire was a result of a racist ars and a cac. No detailed investigation had been launched as an aside, no detailed investigation had been launched into the murder of Kelso Cochrane, either at Blackfriars Bridge. Police rushed the protestors to drive them back, but fail on Fleet Street. Journalists hang from Windows to watch some shouting racist slurs, and the protestors still continue dub the Black People's Day of Action by its organizing committee the day. And the words of poet Linton quasi Johnson quote, made the British state sit up and take notice of the fact that we had power, we had power, and we could mobilize that power. When one of the marches was asked if the day was important in a filmed interview, she responded, it's more than important, brother. This is the beginning, it's not the end. When I speak of after Win Rush, I speak of all the time after the promise, the dream offer to win Rush era immigrants of an England that would cherish them for their contribution. That if you worked hard and you did the right thing, there would be space for you and you'd be accepted. I speak of the time when it was clear that that dream was exactly that, just a dream was nothing more than a dream exported across the ocean and saki, Salva and lambing, as well as in the words of their peers. We see a melancholic response to that loss, a mourning for an England that could have and should have been. It's a mode of writing that's replicated in the after Win Rush era works. And when I say after Win Rush, I mean now, and I probably mean the future of a range of artists who came in their wake. Many black and Asian writers have inhabited this after they've dwelled in it. They've turned over the promise and the felt betrayal from multiple perspectives in their works as they sought a form to best represent it. And a list of them is as long as individuals who've been writing since 1958. But there's another tradition, both literary and social. It's a bolder and more sort of tradition that's younger and less quiescent. It responds to the after win rush in the same way as resistors to the noting hill riots and to the marches and the 14th of March, 1981. It's tradition that fights for a right to belong, fights for the right not to be taken for granted. It's one that looks at the rhetoric of threat, of parallel lives, of failed efforts, of multiculturalism, of migration is bad unless it's mine. My family's migration that responds to a serial attempts in times of crisis in the country to place the blame on newly arrived, on the newly arrived rather than the architects of the status quo. It's another tradition and it's a tradition that resists today on the 65th anniversary of the resistance of the new Caribbean communities of Notting Hill in the center of the center of a long dead empire with you as a collective, I want to mark the after win rush period for all its losses, its broken promises, its betrayals for all the painful reassessments is triggered in its wake for all the needless deaths as a beginning, a long beginning for a new regime that will emerge after this bifurcation, not an end. Thanks. Just to kick us off, I'd like to, um, take the privilege of the chair just to say, well, again, thank you very much. That was really, really fascinating and I was just wondering if I could ask you, you mentioned a couple of figures. Well, one figure in particular Alan Sto and I was wondering about some of the other novelists around at the time who were also, um, playing, finding that received narratives were insufficient mm-hmm.<affirmative>, that they were struggling to fit themselves into existing forms. I also think of Colin McGinnis Yep. For example mm-hmm.<affirmative>, um, people who were feeling that, um, society that they needed to write their way through the changes they're experiencing, but didn't have words for. How would these groups of people sort of interacting, do you think, in your opinion? They weren't <laugh>. Okay. Not perfect. So the generation of, uh, I guess, you know, predominantly white male British writers, young, um, writing in the 19, the late fifties into the sixties, often referred to as the angry young men, which include Kingsley, Amos Martin a's father, were very much responding to the identical social conditions. So, um, there is a book by Alan Sinfield, whose title has completely escaped me, where he describes the, the moment post-war as the moment of the broken promise. So, you know, all of us have done World War II history, have written at some point necessarily. Um, we know that, you know, hundreds, well, scores of lives were lost and there were lost from across the social stratum. But the greatest losses came from the working classes of the country immediately after 45 or well in the run up to 45, there was a clamor for change, right? And this was registered by politicians and also just the average person that we could not then return after that great sacrifice on behalf of the country to the status quo beforehand, the slums, the huge, massive gaps in, in kind of social tears. Um, so there's this clamoring for something, something new. Outta that clamming of course comes the n h s comes the, the expanded welfare state. But Sinfield argues that we see not very long after 45, that promise of a, of a leveled society broken. And out of that comes these sort of working class youth movements, um, which are for a variety of different reasons, kind of upset with their, with the kind of preceding generation. Right. Um, Philip Larkins famous, they f you up, your mom and dad. I don't know if everybody knows that. Yeah. Um, so there was also like, there was a parallel broken promise for Caribbean migrants, but interestingly because they really came from the upper St Stratum of their society when they came to the British literary world, that's where they entered. So people like lambing and Salvan were associating with Louis McNeese, with Tss Elliot, with, um, George Orwell at the B B C in the smoking rooms, et cetera. And that was kind of where they were economically. They weren't there. They, you know, were Salvan did like part-time work, cleaning, mopping a pub, I think. Um, but sort of socially, culturally, that's where they were located. And that kind of Patricia 1% we might say these days or intellectual 1% really look down on the writing of the, the angry young men. Um, so I mean, it's one of these bizarre areas in the history of Britain where we have, you know, two working class effectively communities, in this case Caribbean, and then white British Caribbean being mixed. Of course there are white Caribbean migrants as well, um, responding to effectively a betrayal by the state. Um, but, you know, doing it in their own separate spheres. And the kind of rhetoric that was coming out at the time was ensuring that the sphere stayed separate, right? That the reason that things are not working for you group over here is because these guys came over, um, and enabling this kind of division and we see a similar division in, in the writing of the time. How do you think a novelist, such as Andrea Levy fits into this tradition, especially with her island, uh, with her novel small island? Okay, Um, it's a really good question. You'll have noticed that all the writers I talk about were men. Um, that ties to the fact that up until maybe the mid fifties, the vast majority, I have a statistic somewhere of migrants to Britain from the Caribbean were men, which is linked, I think in part because of, well, gender dynamics at the time. The person who would go out and kind of journey across the shore to send money back would more likely be the male. Um, the, uh, the war as a big part of it as well. A lot of the people who came to Britain were former service men who had fought in World War II over here and then, you know, established themselves somewhat and came back over. Um, and also connected to gender dynamics. There were women writers from the Caribbean at this time who were broadcasting stories on a very famous B b C radio show called Caribbean Voices. Um, but again, I keep saying this, but gender dynamics. These women when they came to Britain often weren't afforded the same opportunities to advance in their literary careers as their male counterparts, um, and had families and caring responsibilities and so, so on, which kind of like prematurely cut their careers short. And on your reading list, there's a, there's a piece by Alison Donald, which talks about this history of, of women Caribbean writers, of, of this, of this era that dynamic changes as we move through time. So this first wave of men kind of come in, are feted, um, get accolades, and then effectively kind of vanish. And then there's successive waves of writers of Caribbean and, and, and broader black backgrounds, including people with Margaret roots and, and, and on the African continent itself. And out of that swirl from the 1960s, late sixties into the seventies, we get more women writers. And then as we move towards the turn of the last century, increasingly increasing numbers of, um, black British women are, are writing and publishing. And Andrea Livy is very much of that kind of later, um, generation. I think it's interesting because women's writing is less fixated on this broken promise in some ways. So there's a very good, um, biography called Black Teacher by Beryl Gilroy, um, uh, Paul Gilroy, if you know him, his mother, um, about her experiences coming to Britain. It's a, it's a memoir and being a, a secondary school, a primary school teacher, and then eventually a head teacher where it's very much a, the narrative is very different. It's not, I've been betrayed. It's, it's difficult and I need to, I need to make it work. Um, and I feel like the, the, the rhetoric of women's writing of these eras is more along those lines. And I think it's possibly, again, unfortunately, going back to chauvinism, um, masculine bias, there's almost an expectation of the men that they ought to be able to fit in, in a way that if you are a, you know, a woman from a not necessarily affluent backgrounds, if you had dark skin, if you're joining into Britain, you probably didn't expect, you would just waltz into, um, be able to establish yourself in positions of power. And I feel like we, we, we see that in the writing. Anyway, Andrea Levy, so she, in her book is not small island, I think as, as bitter about this broken promise as some of these male writers are. Um, but it's interesting that there's some replication of the things that they're fixated on, on mixed relationships on, um, uh, this kind of surprise at reception as well. Although the characters do work through it. I think it's very interesting that in her novel and actually quite a few contemporary novels, the book ends with the births of, uh, a child who is mixed and that mixed child almost signals the generation to come. And it's, it's interesting how in the novels is these men writing earlier mixed relationships pretty much always fail. So there's something, there's a weird kind of preoccupation about romantic relationships is almost an emblem of the possibilities for social relationships, which I find quite, quite interesting. That's great answer, thank you. And there are a few more comments along, um, similar lines. Uh, so mentioning about a degree of misogyny in some of the, the novels Oh yeah. And, and, and the, that you mentioned and, uh, sort of where are the female writers in this? I think it's very interesting what you're saying that, you know, um, at the times, sort of women, all women were struggling to get published on the same sorts of level playing field as as men obviously, but what quite a few women were doing, they were doing forms of writing and they were certainly active. So they were doing things like organizing, like you're saying this practical, okay, let's make this work. And of course we've got a comment saying, was Claudia Jones in this mixture somewhere? Of course. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>, I believe quite significant. Um, lot of journalist type journalistic type writing and quite significant for Notting Hill, I believe. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>. So, um, I think, yeah, let's acknowledge that. So for those who, dunno, Claudia Jones really instrumental in the, in the aftermath of two of these events. So the person who established the noting Hill Carnival in the wake of the Notting Hill riots, the first carnival was held in indoors. Um, and also the person who organized in the wake of the death of Kelso Cochrane both to fundraise to pay for his funeral, but also to set up a, an organization to kind of respond to, to that loss. Um, but I think that's very much almost that counter history that I gestured at. So the individuals who cla Jones's definitely being one of the vanguards here, the individuals who were resisting. So recognizing the broken promise, but trying to fight back against it versus those who have kind of fallen into a sense of sort of borrowed into the loss as it were. You know, it's really, and these writers were definitely chauvinist everybody. I don't want to in any way glass, silver. These were men riding in the 1950s. They were from a kind of elite fraction. They were circulating in, uh, you know, by no means all male worlds, but you know, relatively male professional worlds. Their early works are, are very heavily weighted by the sexual politics of the era, both in the Caribbean and in Britain. Um, although we do see in, in all of them some transmutation as they age, and in fact as they begin to organize alongside women mm-hmm.<affirmative>, So there are women present and they are sort of telling stories and they're creating the possibility for future stories. And I think it's a really, thanks, thanks for all you guys who raised that point. Really, really good point. Um, but it is really important with these novels, and you brought this out really clearly. I think that, um, there is a need to start forming gi giving new form, new structure, new voice, new forms of story, uh, to these very difficult, almost wordless or hard to express, um, experiences that for which conventional or existing narratives are broken, are fragmented, are problematic as as such. Would you say that there are any distinctive or particular forms or narrative devices which lend themselves to the purposes of the wind arthritis? Do they develop any, do they, um, and, and how do they then sort of generate a new genre? Yeah. Um, this isn't me, it's been noted by quite a few scholars, but within the, the sphere of Caribbean writing, you have, um, novels about a collective, uh, emerge very early on and become a, a standard feature of writing from, from the, the space to get fewer novels. Even Lambings in the castle of My Skin, which I talked about, about the person who Margarets away, there's an oscillation between his story and the story of the community. And throughout Caribbean writing, we have books which are focused on a, on a sort of a mass and tell the stories of multiple people simultaneously and are representing, you know, many different individuals within the community. Living Londoners is a great example. So I think that's like one particular unique formal feature of Caribbean writing from this time that carries well into the present. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>, that's great. And I think we've got time just for one more question. Remember, don't worry, if you had a question, um, please submit it through Slido and hopefully we'll be able to grab you back and do, um, a podcast with you, which will accompany the lecture online. Um, but your last question, and I think personally, it's, um, it's an excellent question. Quite challenging though. Yeah. I love it. All right,<laugh>, go for it. What would you recommend a 16 year old girl <laugh>? True? This is, um, what would you recommend a 16 year old girl to, to start reading from the, from the wind rush, wind rush literature? Oh gosh, If you haven't read anything, always start with the Lonely Londoners. I think it's, it's, it's a great, it's a, it's a wonderful book, unbelievably accessible. Um, and as I said is, you know, it is, it does reflect the, the politics of its time, but it's a lovely snapshot and insight into that moment. Um, I think of the books I mentioned, it's the only one that's never fallen out of print, has always been in Prince since 1956. Um, and that speaks to, that speaks to how, you know, how, how enjoyable it is. Um, I absolutely adore the writing of Samuel Salvo and, um, you know, he's got a battle 50% hit rate from me. So about half his novels are, are very good. Half his novels are maybe not as good. Um, but his books on set in Trinidads, which feature, feature a character called Tiger, uh, a Brighter Sun, and also Turn again Tiger. Uh, I would highly recommend as well. Um, and then from there, I probably would try in the castle of my skin, The castle of my skin. Okay. Um, please join me in giving a really warm thanks to our speaker tonight, Dr.