In Brief

Top five books about the Windrush generation

Learn about the West Indians who were invited to the UK between 1948 and 1971 to help with postwar rebuilding

The Windrush generation is an important part of British history, and one that has been in the headlines in recent months.

But who were the Windrush generation and why are they so important? Here are five books to help you learn everything you need to know.

The Lonely Londoners - Sam Selvon

In this book, based on his own experiences moving from Trinidad to the UK, Selvon details the story of West Indians in post-WWII London. Following a number of characters of the Windrush generation, the novel tells their story of their daily lives as “coloureds” in a sometimes-hostile capital. Published in 1956, it was one of the first Caribbean novels to use dialect.

Listen to The Week discussing Windrush Day:

Jamaican Migrant - Wallace Collins

This autobiography pulls no punches, offering a raw, unapologetic account of what it means to be a migrant in a predominantly white country.

Windrush: Irresistible Rise of Multi-racial Britain - Trevor Phillips

This moving volume tells the story of Britain’s first West Indian immigrants in their own words. It follows their stories from fifty years ago to the present day, describing what it was like to be among the pioneering generation which established the first predominantly black British communities in the UK.

Ormonde - Hannah Lowe

This collection of poetry reminds us that there were other ships besides the Empire Windrush to bring migrants over to the UK between the 1940s and 1970s, Lowe’s father being a passenger on one of them. Her poems tell the story of some of those on board, bringing the characters to life and imagining their hopes, fears and anxieties.

The Pleasures of Exile – George Lamming

George Lamming is considered to be one of the most important West Indian emigrant voices of the time. This work of non-fiction explores identity, colonialism and what it meant to be a West Indian in London, and reflects on migrants’ changing relationship with the UK.

 

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