17 March 2022 – 26th June 2022
Explore highlights from the archive of Beryl Agatha Gilroy (1924–2001), an acclaimed writer, teacher and ethno-psychotherapist.
In the 1960s, Gilroy became one of the first Black head-teachers in London. Born in Guyana (then British Guiana), Gilroy immigrated to Britain in 1952 and was one of very few women of the ‘Windrush Generation’ to become a professional writer.
Gilroy wrote for both children and adults including an innovative autobiography, Black Teacher (1976). Her work explores the lives of women and children including the impact of migration and societal change that came as a result.
This display draws on Gilroy’s archive, which was donated to the Library in 2020. The archive is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in the depth and breadth of Gilroy’s work from her literary output, to the principles that shaped her teaching methods and insights into her work as a counsellor.
The British Library commissioned Amber Akaunu, a Liverpool-born Nigerian-German filmmaker and artist, to engage creatively with the Gilroy archive. Inspired deeply by the archive, Amber has produced a zine, The Blueprint (PDF), and an accompanying film that explores the idea that Black women, and their archives, are the blueprint, which Black women in the present, and future, will build on.
Parts of this display include language, which though commonplace at the time, would now be considered offensive. It is included in order to contextualise Beryl Gilroy’s work on challenging and dismantling racism.