Voices of the Windrush Generation
The Windrush generation, in their own words
England Fever is the first book to collect together the oral testimonies of the post-war Caribbean immigrants to Britain. Drawing on extensive interviews and his own family history, this is a book Colin Grant has been preparing to write all his life.
In the first flush of mass migration, the 1948 British Nationality Act held open the door for any member of the Commonwealth to relocate to Britain. England Fever will explore how and why West Indians succumbed to the fever to leave their islands. Tracking their experiences from their arrival to how they settled into permanent residents, despite the sometimes open hostility of their host nation. Through first-hand interviews and testimonies, England Fever will reveal, in their own words, how they navigated this bewildering new cultural landscape and were able to weave themselves into the very fabric of British society, while retaining – and in some ways creating – a distinct culture of their own. England Fever will also show how dramatically attitudes change in this period, as the so-called ‘immigrant problem’ had been recast as a ‘colour problem’, culminating in race riots and the Commonwealth Immigrants Act of 1962, which effectively disbarred the entry of unskilled black workers.
With many of the survivors of the Windrush generation now in their 70s and 80s, it is urgent that their own accounts of this hugely important and fascinating moment of British history, are recorded and savoured.
“A remarkable oral history of black postwar British life… Homecoming is an extraordinary and compelling book in which the memories of bus drivers, civil servants, engineers, nurses, RAF and army recruits, teachers, shop stewards and seamstresses jostle with those of journalists, musicians, novelists and poets... The recovered memories in Homecoming are a formidable challenge to those still nostalgic for a lost empire, to all who cling to narrow and parochial definitions of Britishness... The voices in Homecoming sing throughout the book but they also reverberate pain, for so many are recounting stories they do not want to remember.”
Hazel V Carby, Daily Telegraph
“Grant is the writer to do justice to [the Windrush Generation’s] lives… he has conducted dozens of interviews, dug into the Mass Observation archives, and combed through semi-forgotten oral histories from the 1960s to produce this anthology of submerged lives that prickles with beautiful, comic and brutal details.”
Sukhdev Sandhu, Observer
“Drawing on scores of first-hand accounts, Colin Grant offers oral history at its finest.”
Bel Mooney, Daily Mail
“Hundreds of first hand interviews, archive footage and memoir extracts of the Windrush Generation, beautifully edited into a patchwork quilt of experience and heritage. It's so powerful hearing these voices direct, making for a hopeful and angry, joyful and tear-jerking read.”
“[Grant] lets people speak for themselves… there is much to enjoy. Some of the memories are painful, some are joyous, others are much more ambivalent.”
Clive Davis, The Times
“The Windrush generation’s voices are rarely heard, but Grant’s anthology is informative and funny, a well-researched window into a vanished world.”
“[An] impressive work of oral history.”
“Colin Grant has interviewed and collected nearly 200 voices from [the Windrush] era, from all walks of life, including policemen and fascists. It's quite a feat.”
Bernardine Evaristo, i Newspaper
“The structure of Homecoming gives its subjects space to speak for themselves, with each vignette providing a glimpse into little known history… Grant’s collection of voice…exposes effectively the cruel logic of Britain’s legacy of domination.”
Renni Eddo-Lodge, Guardian