The books and resources included in this list focus on Caribbean migration to the UK, symbolised by the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush to Tilbury Docks, Essex on 22 June 1948, 75 years ago. All are available in the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre Library, or online.
We have chosen books which prioritise the voices and experiences of the Windrush generation and their descendants, and which celebrate their contributions to British society, as well books which describe the racism and prejudice that many members of the Windrush generation have faced and continue to face.
This is not an exhaustive list – there are many more books on these topics available in our library, and we regularly update our collection with new titles.
Books for children and young people
Coming to England, Floella Benjamin (JUN/BEN)
Floella Benjamin tells the true story of the hopes and fears, and the pain she experienced when leaving the Caribbean for an unfriendly new life in England. Her feelings are shared by any child who has had to adapt to a new life in a strange environment and culture. Also available as a picture book for younger readers.
Granny Came Here on the Empire Windrush, Patrice Lawrence (on order)
This picture book is a heart-warming intergenerational account of the Windrush experience, told through the eyes of a child, Ava, who discovers the suitcase her Granny brought with her on the Empire Windrush many years ago.
The Story of the Windrush, K.N. Chimbiri (JUN/CHI)
This illustrated book tells the story of the arrival of the hundreds of Caribbean men, women and children in London on the HMT Empire Windrush, an event which marks the beginning of modern Black Britain. An accessible introduction to Windrush and its impact for younger readers.
Windrush Child, Benjamin Zephaniah (on order)
This short novel tells the story of Leonard, who arrives with his mother in Southampton. He finds that his father is a stranger to him, the weather is cold, and the food doesn’t taste the same. This story shows young readers what it was like to be a child of the Windrush generation.
Life stories and experiences
Mother Country: real stories of the Windrush children, Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff (IM.2.01/BRI)
Published 70 years on from the arrival of the Empire Windrush, this book explores the realities of the Windrush experience, and celebrates both ordinary and extraordinary lives. It features 22 real-life stories.
Homecoming: voices of the Windrush generation, Colin Grant (IM.2.01/GRA)
Draws on over a hundred first-hand interviews, archival recordings, and memoirs by men and women that arrived in Britain from the Caribbean between the 1940s-1960s. Diverse stories and experiences are shared by bus drivers, civil servants, engineers, nurses, RAF and army recruits, teachers, shop stewards and seamstresses, as well as poets, novelists and musicians.
With Hope In Their Eyes: the compelling stories of the Windrush generation, Vivienne Francis (HI.1.04/FRA)
A compilation of personal stories of some of the 492 Caribbean migrants on board the Empire Windrush. Explores the hostile environment they faced on arrival and the contributions they made to British life and society.
Voices of the Windrush Generation: the real story told by the people themselves, David Matthews (HI.1.04/MAT)
20 first-hand accounts from men, women and children detailing what it means to be Black in Britain today. The book explores why people chose to emigrate, what their hopes and dreams were, and the communities that they formed.
Books about the Windrush Scandal
The Windrush Betrayal: exposing the hostile environment, Amelia Gentleman (HI.1.04/GEN)
The Windrush scandal was exposed by Amelia Gentleman’s investigative journalism between 2017 and 2020. It emerged that thousands of Black British citizens had been wrongly detained as illegal immigrants, stripped of their rights, and deported. Read this book for an account of the scandal, which reveals disturbing truths about modern Britain.
Deporting Black Britons: portraits of deportation to Jamaica, Luke de Noronha (IM.2/NOR)
Traces the life stories of four of the thousands of people deported from the UK to Jamaica, many of whom left the Caribbean as infants and grew up in the UK. The book explores how Black Britons survive after deportation and testifies to the damage wrought by violent borders.
Fiction about Caribbean Migration to the UK
Small Island, Angela Levy (FIC/LEV)
This novel, set in 1948, the year the Empire Windrush arrived in Britain, traces the tangled history of Jamaica and Britain. Four narrative viewpoints are interwoven to tell the story of Jamaican immigrants who travel to England after World War Two and the prejudice they experience.
The Lonely Londoners, Sam Selvon (FIC/SEL)
This novel, set in the 1950s, follows members of London’s Caribbean community through their daily lives in the capital. This was one of the first published British novels to focus on working-class Black people.
Websites & online resources
British Library Windrush Stories (https://www.bl.uk/windrush)
This landing page on the British Library website features articles, digital collection items, videos and teaching resources, which encourage us to consider the complicated and ongoing relationship between Britain and the Caribbean.
Black Cultural Archives: Subject Guides (https://blackculturalarchives.org/subject-guides) Introductions to key themes within collections at the Black Cultural Archives, covering many areas of Black British