The novel To Sir, With Love by the Guyanese author and diplomat Eustace Adolphe Braithwaite met instant success when it was first published in 1959.
Based on his personal experiences as a temporary teacher in the East End of London in the late 1940s and early 1950s, E. A. Braithwaite drew a vivid portrait of racial relations and what it meant to be black in London before Commonwealth immigration started in earnest.
Compared with most Commonwealth workers who settled in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, Mr Braithwaite was well qualified for life in Britain. But even though he was educated at Cambridge University and had served with the RAF during the Second World War, he was met with racial prejudice and ill-concealed discrimination. No wonder then that those who were less fortunate than him in their education and professional qualifications found it even harder to adjust to life in the mother country.
Up to 1962 Commonwealth residents had unlimited access to Britain. In 1962 the Commowealth Immigrants Act was passed along with a succession of other laws that severely restricted the entry of Black immigrants. It is widely argued that from the middle of the 20th century there was growing racism and prejudice against Blacks and Asians.