10 November 2020
Bret Johnson, Loughborough University
George Lamming, who is originally from Barbados, established himself in Britain during the 1950s as a successful author, intellectual, and public figure who frequently appeared on TV and radio programmes. Lamming’s public appearances came despite the hostility towards Caribbean immigrants, known as the Windrush Generation, who came to the United Kingdom following the British Nationality Act 1948. In an interview in 1960 for the BBC program Monitor, Lamming described the ordeal of the Windrush Generation, remarking upon ‘the terror of not knowing and of not even daring to call upon a single soul among the hundred who surround him,’ stating that, ‘this is the initial experience of the West Indian arriving […] he is alone.’ Along with other Caribbean authors of this generation, such as Sam Selvon and Edgar Mittelhölzer, Lamming experienced uncertainty, segregation and prejudice when he moved to London in 1950. Many viewed the move to London as a necessity: Arthur Calder-Marshall, a close acquaintance of Lamming, described London as ‘the cultural centre for Caribbean writers.’ Many writers from the Caribbean knew that London offered a cultural infrastructure which included the British Empire’s publishing industry, art institutions and an audience who were receptive to the experimental prose that would become associated with this generation of Caribbean authors.