On 3 October, A Level English Literature students from RGS Guildford and Tormead watched the live streaming of a lecture from Gresham College. “Writing after Windrush” was delivered by Dr Malachi McIntosh, Associate Professor of World Literatures in English at the University of Oxford and the Barbara Pym Tutorial Fellow in English at St. Hilda’s College.
Dr McIntosh’s lecture began with a discussion of the hostile climate faced by Caribbean migrants upon arrival in the United Kingdom in the middle of the 20th century. Many came escaping difficult economic situations in their home nations, believing they would be welcomed by a country they were brought up to believe was accepting of its one-time colonial subjects. However, in reality, they faced daily struggles in seeking housing and employment due to often flagrant prejudice. Dr McIntosh also discussed the racially-motivated murder of Kelso Cochrane in Notting Hill.
Dr McIntosh then moved on to discuss three literary figures who sought to bring the experience of Caribbean migrants into the public mainstream: George Lamming, Andrew Salkey and Samuel Selvon. He focused on the protagonists of some of these writers’ most lauded works and how these figures helped to illuminate the everyday lives of a community suffering so obviously at the hands of a country they believed would receive them warmly.
Our Upper Sixth students benefitted immensely from listening to this lecture as one of their set texts is in fact Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners. The evening also provided an opportunity for our Lower Sixth students to meet their counterparts from Tormead School in preparation for a collaborative symposium we are hosting in December. The symposium, entitled “The Canon of Windrush Literature”, will see the students work together over the next two months on a selection of five different texts with significant links to the migration of people from the Caribbean to the United Kingdom.
Mr N Patel
Teacher of English