British Library acquires the archive of poet James Berry

Notecards from the James Berry Archive

Series of notecards onto which Berry has written his feelings on subjects including his arrival in England, his development as a writer and his work with schools.
Images reproduced with the kind permission of James Berry.

The British Library has acquired the archive of the Caribbean British poet and writer, James Berry OBE. One of the first black writers in Britain to be widely recognised for his work, James Berry came to Britain as part of the first major wave of immigrants from the Caribbean in 1948.

Berry‘s archive includes poetry notebooks spanning the length of his career, along with manuscript and typescript drafts of his poetry and prose (including notes for an unpublished novel), diaries, photographs and audio visual material. Notes and heavily annotated drafts in the archive illustrate Berry’s creative process and the meticulous attention to detail in his writing. This fascinating and varied archive will provide researchers with a real insight into Berry’s life and work.

Much of Berry’s work explores the relationship between black and white communities and in particular, the excitement and tensions in the evolving relationship of the Caribbean immigrants with Britain and British society from the 1940s onwards. James Berry’s passion for and involvement in education, which developed out of a concern for the low priority given to multi-cultural education in British schools, led to numerous visits to schools and a year spent as Writer-in-Residence at Vauxhall Manor School in 1978.

For more information and images of items from the archive please see the press release.

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