The Lonely Londoners by Samuel Selvon

Description

Published in 1956, The Lonely Londoners is Samuel Selvon’s third novel. Narrated in creolized English, the novel depicts the daily experiences of Moses Alloeta and his friends, migrants from Africa and the Caribbean. Although the novel is renowned for its humour, Moses’ anecdotal narrative shrewdly portrays the class and racial boundaries that the group faces as they strive to establish themselves in London.

Born in Trinidad and of East Indian descent, Selvon migrated to London in 1950 where he continued to write journalism, poetry and short stories. His first novel, A Brighter Sun, was published in 1952.

The Lonely Londoners is regarded as the first – and definitive – novel to represent the Black migrant experience in England (and, more specifically, in London). As such, it is a precursor to novels such as The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi and White Teeth by Zadie Smith.

Full title:
The Lonely Londoners
Published:
1956, London
Publisher:  
Allan Wingate
Format:
Book / Illustration / Image
Creator:
Samuel Selvon, Robin Adler [photographer]
Usage terms

Samuel Selvon (front cover and text): © By permission of the Estate of Sam Selvon. Published under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licence.

Photograph of Samuel Selvon by Robin Adler: © Robin Adler. Published under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licence.

Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
RF.2013.a.2

Full catalogue details

Related articles

An introduction to My Beautiful Laundrette

Article by:
Sukhdev Sandhu
Themes:
Literature 1950–2000, Capturing and creating the modern, Exploring identity

Hanif Kureishi's 1985 film My Beautiful Laundrette portrays a young British Asian man who runs a laundrette with his white schoolfriend, and the romantic relationship between the two. Sukhdev Sandhu explains how the film marked a radical departure from previous representations of British Asians in mainstream culture.

Black British theatre: 1950–1979

Article by:
Natasha Bonnelame
Themes:
20th-century theatre, Theatre practitioners and genres, Exploring identity

Postwar migration to Britain from Africa and the Caribbean led to the development of black British theatre in the 1950s. Natasha Bonnelame introduces several of the most important black playwrights of the period, including Errol John and Wole Soyinka and describes the contexts in which their plays were staged.

'Knock, knock, it’s Enoch': Hanif Kureishi remembers the effect of Enoch Powell

Article by:
Hanif Kureishi
Themes:
Power and conflict, Exploring identity

Hanif Kureishi describes how the MP Enoch Powell made racism the basis of his political position, and recalls the climate of fear Powell's hate-mongering created among people of colour in the 1970s.

Related collection items

Related people

Related works

The Lonely Londoners

Created by: Samuel Selvon

The Lonely Londoners (1956) overview Published in 1956, Samuel Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners is an iconic ...

My Beautiful Laundrette

Created by: Hanif Kureishi

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) was the first screenplay by Hanif Kureishi, commissioned by Channel 4’s Film on ...

The Buddha of Suburbia

Created by: Hanif Kureishi

The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) is a bestselling novel by the British writer Hanif Kureishi. Its main protagonist is a ...