BEFORE WINDRUSH: West Indians in Britain

Product no.: HP241

Asher and Martin Hoyles

West Indians have been coming to Britain for over 300 years, so the arrival of around 500 Caribbean passengers on the Empire Windrush in 1948 was not new. This book records twenty-eight early West Indian immigrants, such as Norman Manley, Learie Constantine, Una Marson and C.L.R. James, but also less well-known figures like the model Fanny Eaton, nurse Annie Brewster, footballer Andrew Watson and airman Billy Strachan. Their stories are interspersed with Asher’s passionate poems.

“People of West Indian descent are often reduced to one single word: Windrush. This crushes their individuality and is historically inaccurate. Asher and Martin Hoyles truthfully and poetically tell the stories of those who came to Britain much earlier. Embedding the Windrush Scandal in a much deeper history of debt that we owe to those who came to Britain, the authors don’t weaken the case for justice for Windrush citizens, they fortify it.”  David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, north London

“A useful reminder that the arrival of Empire Windrush into Tilbury Docks in June 1948 was not the start of migration from the Caribbean to Britain. This book contains fascinating portraits of the lives of the pre-Windrush arrivals.”  Amelia Gentleman, author of The Windrush Betrayal, 2019

“A selection of important Caribbean men and women whose contributions to Britain brought about positive changes. They arrived on ships many years before the Empire Windrush. The individuals are role-models and their lives will inspire readers. Before Windrush should be in every home and library.”  Arthur Torrington CBE, Director, Windrush Foundation

“This book must be welcomed for drawing attention to the historical contributions made by a range of remarkable women and men, who have impacted on so many spheres of British life.”  Margaret Busby

  • 216 x 138 mm
  • 144 pages
  • Paperback

Asher Hoyles works as a Learning Support Practitioner at NewVic Sixth Form College in East London. She has a BA in Education & Community Studies from the University of East London, is a qualified teacher and has a Postgraduate Certificate in Dyslexia from University College London. For over 25 years Asher has been writing poetry which she has performed in many venues around the UK. She has run poetry workshops in schools, colleges and prisons, and at Clean Break Theatre Company in Kentish Town. Asher is the author of Raise Up the Low, Bring Down the Mighty: Performance Poetry (Hansib, 2018), and co-authored Dyslexia from a Cultural Perspective (Hansib, 2007).

Martin Hoyles taught English and drama for ten years in Newham schools – grammar, secondary modern and comprehensive. Then for over 30 years he was a senior lecturer at the University of East London in the departments of Education, Cultural Studies, and Communication Studies. He has written books on the history of gardening, childhood, and literacy, as well as more recently with Asher on mixed-race achievement, black performance poetry, and dyslexia. His most recent book is Ira Aldridge: Famous Speeches published by Hansib in 2019.

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