In 1904, an accomplished young Krio man from a middle-class family in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, set sail from the west African coast to London. Aged just 26, his aim was to make his mark on the literary world. Augustus Merriman-Labor had every reason to be optimistic. He was hard-working, gifted and successful, with a rising profile in his home country, and moving to London to take advantage of the opportunities the city afforded was a logical but brave next step. As scholar Danell Jones writes: “The Sierra Leone Weekly News had assured him that his colour would be no obstacle there,” and he could “go anywhere, wherever his merits… will take him”.
The Krios have a fascinating history. In 1787, the Sierra Leone Resettlement saw 411 people “repatriated” to an area of land on the west African coast. Most were members of the black poor community in London; many were formerly enslaved people freed after fighting for the British in the American Revolutionary War, but who had ended up destitute. Attitudes towards black people shut down almost all opportunity and employment.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
The (Surprisingly) Modern Middle Ages
From devastating climate change to deadly pandemics, the challenges that kept our medieval ancestors awake at night weren’t so different from those preoccupying us today, says Dan Jones
The Kings And Queens Of Hearts
Sarah Gristwood reveals how the Tudor monarchs exploited the medieval obsession with courtly love – a romantic creed inspired by the idea of valiant knights risking their lives to woo fair ladies – to further their own agendas
The end of empires
RICHARD J EVANS lauds an innovative work that re-examines the Second World War in the context of global imperial ambitions
Let's cherish this shining light of the great Bronze Age civilisations
THE TAMILS’ GLITTERING CULTURAL UNIVERSE
War between friends
CORMAC O GRADA commends an ambitious attempt to objectively examine the conflict that pitted Irish people against each other in the wake of the bloody War of Independence
Prejudice on the pitch
The racist abuse experienced by some of England’s black footballers after the team’s defeat in the Euro 2020 championship final in July thrust the issue of racism in the sport back into the spotlight. MATTHEW TAYLOR charts the causes and consequences of more than a century of discrimination
EMMA DABIRI explores lesser-known stories from our past
INTERVIEW: HELEN CARR & SUZANNAH LIPSCOMB
A new book edited by Helen Carr and Suzannah Lipscomb marks the 60th anniversary of EH Carr's What Is History? by asking that question a new for the 21st century
How George V won the war
The First World War ushered many European monarchies to extinction. But not in Britain. Heather Jones reveals how – through canny PR and genuine compassion for the troops – the royal family emerged from the conflict stronger than ever.
SIAN EVANS recommends an entertaining introduction to the adventures of independently wealthy women in Britain over the past four centuries
Tuning In to a Happier City
Noise is an irritant of urban life. But there are ways to make it easier on the ears—and the psyche
Simon Butler on Foundational Change
London – The Crossroads
A London in Transition
Turn It Around
Amruta Patel is a student at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She has been studying Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication and Heartful Communication for the last several months.
New York City Made the Office
And the office, in turn, made modern New York.
Kingpins and wannabes barrel through the London underworld.
Back on the Road
We all know travel can be a pain, but when it hits below the belt you need to know there’s something you can do about it
GET YOUR FRONT ROW SEAT TO VIRTUAL FASHION SHOWS
It’s hard to remember now, but it was during the fall ready-to-wear shows last February that the fashion world first became aware of the coronavirus, even before it had been declared a global pandemic.
AMAZON OPENS FIRST UK CHECKOUT-FREE GROCERY STORE IN LONDON
Amazon has opened a cashier-free supermarket in London, its first bricks and mortar expansion outside the U.S. as the company bets on strong demand for its contactless shops.
Extremely Online and Wildly Out of Control
Patricia Lockwood’s debut novel explores the mind, and heart, of an internet-addled protagonist.