What is Coming to England about?
This is the true story of how 11-year-old Floella Benjamin arrived in England in 1960 with her sister and two brothers to start a new life in London. She describes her family, her happy home and the bright colours of Trinidad in the Caribbean, where she was born.
Her parents, Marmie and Dardie, left Trinidad in 1959 to help rebuild Britain after the Second World War. They had to leave their four eldest children, including Floella, in Trinidad with family friends. After 15 months, Marmie sent for the children and they travelled the 4000 miles alone by ship to be reunited with the rest of the family in London.
Although overjoyed to be with Marmie again, Floella soon found that England was not the welcoming ‘motherland’ they had all been expecting. She was shocked and upset by the rejection and racism she experienced, and realised that she would have to work twice as hard and be twice as good as anyone else to succeed.
Why did Floella Benjamin write Coming to England?
Floella Benjamin became a much-loved children’s television presenter and actress. She wrote Coming to England because her own children asked her what it was like when she was little. She couldn’t find any books that told the story of children like her who had come to Britain with their parents from the Caribbean.
The 20th-anniversary edition of Floella’s memoir, published in 2016, is beautifully illustrated by Michael Frith.