JAMES, C.L.R. (1901-1989)
Plaque erected in 2004 by English Heritage at 165 Railton Road, Brixton, London SE24 0JX, London Borough of Lambeth
Writer, Political Activist
Literature, Politics and Administration, Sport
C.L.R. JAMES 1901-1989 West Indian Writer and Political Activist lived and died here
The Trinidadian writer and political activist CLR James is commemorated with a blue plaque at 165 Railton Road in Brixton where he lived from 1981 until his death eight years later.
HISTORY, LITERATURE AND PHILOSOPHY
Cyril Lionel Robert James first came to England in 1932 at the invitation of his fellow Trinidadian, the cricketer Sir Learie Constantine, and made his name reporting on cricket matches for the Manchester Guardian. While living in London James carried out much of the work that resulted in his most famous publication, The Black Jacobins (1938), a history of Haitian independence.
In 1938 he moved to the United States, where he became deeply involved in Trotskyist politics, but as the years went by his thinking roamed more widely across history, literature and philosophy. London became James’s home again in 1953, and he spent five years living in Hampstead and Willesden before returning to Trinidad, where he became involved in the island’s independence movement and edited the political newspaper The Nation.
By the 1980s, James enjoyed iconic status among the West Indian community in Britain and was internationally renowned. As he became increasingly housebound, his cramped second-floor flat in Brixton – located above the offices of the journal Race Today – became a place of pilgrimage for students, journalists and politicians.