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
- 1956, London
- Allan Wingate
- Book / Illustration / Image
- 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
- Article by:
- Sukhdev Sandhu
- 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.
- Article by:
- Natasha Bonnelame
- 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.
- Article by:
- Hanif Kureishi
- 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.
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The Lonely Londoners (1956) overview Published in 1956, Samuel Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners is an iconic ...
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