Vital Discussions: RSL Remembers C. L. R. James

CLR James in front of a flag

For more information

  • This event has taken place
  • Tel: +44 (0)1937 546546
  • Email:

A celebration of the pioneering Trinidadian writer, historian and socialist with Ayanna Lloyd Banwo, Margaret Busby, Selma James and Nicole-Rachelle Moore

This is an online only event hosted on the British Library platform. Bookers will be sent a viewing link shortly before the event and will be able to watch at any time for 48 hours after the start time.

This event will be live captioned. 

Ahead of a special event on James's life and times at Trinidad and Tobago’s premier literature festival, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, join us to celebrate the work and legacy of pioneering Trinidadian writer, historian and socialist, C. L. R. James.

In the company of Trinidadian writer Ayanna Lloyd Banwo, James’s publisher Margaret Busby, James’s wife and colleague Selma James, and the British Library’s Curator of Caribbean Collections Nicole-Rachelle Moore, journey through James’s writing life using three of his most celebrated works as signposts along the way: Minty Alley, Mariners, Renegades and Castaways and The Black Jacobins.  

In partnership with NGC Bocas Lit Fest, Curtis Brown Heritage and the Royal Society of Literature.

Ayanna Lloyd Banwo is a writer from Trinidad & Tobago. She is a graduate of the University of the West Indies and holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, where she is now a Creative and Critical Writing PhD candidate. Her work has been published in Moko Magazine, Small Axe and PREE, among others, and shortlisted for Small Axe Literary Competition and the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. When We Were Birds is her first novel; she is now working on her second which will be published by Hamish Hamilton in 2025.  

Margaret Busby CBE, Hon. FRSL (Nana Akua Ackon) is a major cultural figure in Britain and around the world. Born in Ghana and educated in the UK, she graduated from Bedford College, London University, before becoming Britain’s youngest and first Black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby in the late 1960s. At Allison & Busby, she published notable authors including Buchi Emecheta, Nuruddin Farah, Rosa Guy, C. L. R. James, Michael Moorcock, Jill Murphy Sam Greenlee, Roy Heath, George Lamming, Andrew Salkey, Ishmael Reed and John Edgar Wideman.  

A writer, editor, broadcaster and literary critic, she has written drama for BBC radio and the stage, with radio abridgments and dramatisations encompassing work by Henry Louis Gates, Timothy Mo, Walter Mosley, Jean Rhys, Sam Selvon and Wole Soyinka. She has interviewed high-profile writers including Toni Morrison, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Ben Okri, judged the Booker Prize among others, and served on the boards of such organisations as the Royal Literary Fund, Wasafiri magazine, Tomorrow’s Warriors, Nubian Jak Community Trust and the Africa Centre in London.  A long-time campaigner for diversity in publishing, she is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and recipient of several honorary doctorates and awards, including the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award, the Royal Society of Literature’s Benson Medal, and the Royal African Society’s inaugural Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement Award.  

Selma James is an antisexist, antiracist, anti-capitalist campaigner. In 1972 she put forward Wages for Housework (WFH) as a political perspective that redefined the working class to include all who work without wages, starting with women, the primary carers everywhere. The International WFH Campaign she founded (which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year) co-ordinates the Global Women's Strike. With her husband and colleague C. L. R. James, she worked in the English-speaking Caribbean for independence and federation, 1958-1962. Her first anthology, Sex, Race, and ClassThe Perspective of Winning was published in 2012. Her second, Our Time Is Now: Sex, Race, Class, and Caring for People and Planet was published in 2021, both by PM Press.

Nicole-Rachelle Moore is the British Library’s Curator of its Caribbean Collections. She has led courses on Andrea Levy and Toni Morrison, and worked closely with New Beacon Books and the George Padmore Institute. She co-edited Dream To Change the World on the life of John La Rose and contributed to the recently-published In Search of Mami Wata: Narratives and Images of African Water Spirits

Sponsor logos

The British Library is a charity. Your support helps us open up a world of knowledge and inspiration for everyone. Donate today.


Name: Vital Discussions: RSL Remembers C. L. R. James
Where: British Library St Pancras
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546