Scripting Empire

Pauline Enriques and Samuel Selvon reading scripts at the BBC, 1952 © BBC/UK Government (public domain)

Between the 1930s and 1960s, the BBC commissioned radio scripts by several hundred African and Caribbean contributors, including an extraordinary series of then unknown literary figures (three of them now Nobel Prize holders): V.S. Naipaul, Derek Walcott, George Lamming, Louise Bennett, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Amos Tutuola.

This project recovers the literary history of West Indian and West African writing at the BBC in order to rethink the critical mid-century decades of decolonization, late imperialism, shrinking British sovereignty, and mass migration to the metropole.