ENGL 90517: Post-War Britain and Ireland: The Literature and Social History of Emigration in Comparative Perspective

Reading List



Tony Judt, ‘Chapter 1: The Legacy of War’, Post-War: A History of Europe since 1945 (London, 2007)

Dominic Sandbrook – ‘Britain in 1956’ and ‘The Newcomers’, in Never Had it so Good: A History of Britain from Suez to the Beatles (London, 2005).

V.S. Naipaul, ‘The Journey’, in The Enigma of Arrival (London, 2002)

Wendy Webster, ‘Britain and the Refugees of Europe, 1939-1950’, in Ryan and Webster eds., Gendering Migration: Masculinity, Femininity and Ethnicity in Post-War Britain (London, 2008).

George Lamming, ‘Journey to an Expectation’, in The Pleasures of Exile (London, 1960).

John B Keane, extract from Self-Portrait (Cork, 1964)

Andrew Nocon, “A Reluctant Welcome?: Poles in Britain in the 1940s”, Oral History, Spring 1986.

J.A. Tannahill, European Voluntary Workers in Britain (Manchester University Press, 1956).

George Lamming, The Emigrants (London, 1954)

Sam Selvon, The Lonely Londoners (London, 1956)

Bill Schwarz, ‘Crossing the Seas’ and ‘The Predicament of History’ in Schwarz ed. West Indian Intellectuals in Britain (Manchester, 2003)

           Going to Britain: Talks Addressed to West Indians (London, 1959)

A Catholic Handbook for Irish Men and Women Going to England (Dublin, 1953)

Schwarz, “The only white man in there: the re-racialisation of England, 1956-1968”, Race and Class 39 (1995).


Donall Mac Amhlaigh, An Irish Navvy: The Diary of an Exile trans., Valentine Iremonger (London, 1966).

            Ultan Cowley, The Men Who Built Britain (Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 2004).

A. J. Sykes, “Navvies: Their Social Relations,” Sociology 3.2, 157-172, and “Navvies: Their Work Attitudes,” Sociology 3.1, 21-34; Terry Coleman, “The Elite inside the Tunnel,” New Society 6 Jan, 1966, 6-8; Jeremy Bugler, “Ireland in London,” New Society 14, March, 1968, 369-371; John Gretton, “The Lump,” New Society 18 March 1970, 469-470.


Philip Donnellan, The Irishmen (BBC, not transmitted, 1965).  Available at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3797500874433329951#

On Donnellan’s Irish documentary see Lance Pettit, “Philip Donnellan, Ireland and Dissident Documentary,” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 20.3 (2001)

Charlotte Brunsdon, “ ‘A fine and private place’: the cinematic spaces of the London Underground,” Screen 47.1 (2006).

Donnellan, “We Were the BBC,” unpublished typescript, (Donnellan Archive, Birmingham Central Library). Extracts available at www.philipdonnellan.com.

Donnellan, The Colony (1964).  Available at www.screenonline.org.uk.

Ewan McColl, Song of a Road, 1959 Radio Ballad.

Stuart Hall, ‘Reconstruction Work: Images of Post-War Black Settlement’ (1984) in James Procter ed. Writing Black Britain 1948-1998 (Manchester, 2000).


John Rex and Robert Moore, Race, Community and Conflict: A Study of Sparkbook (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967)

Report on Pakistani immigrants to Birmingham (1958) http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/citizenship/brave_new_world/birmingham.htm

Mary Daly, “A Ticket to London is a Ticket to Hell”, in The Slow Failure: Population Decline and Independent Ireland, 1920-1973 (Wisconsin, 2006). (See also relevant passages in Enda Delaney, The Irish in Post-War Britain (Oxford, 2007).)

Learie Constantine, ‘The Colour Bar’ (1954), in Procter, ed. (2000)

            Anthony Cronin, The Life of Riley (Dublin, 2010 [London, 1964]), pp124-187.

Louise Ryan, ‘Becoming Nurses: Irish Women, Migration and Identity through the Life Course’ in Ryan and Webster eds. (2008). (see also other articles by Ryan on migration and nursing).

Paul Michael Garrett, ‘The Hidden History of the PFIs’, Immigrants and Minorities 19.3 (2000): 25-44.

Wendy Webster, Imagining Home, Race, Gender and National Identity, 1945-1964 (London, 1998)


Goldthorpe et al., The Affluent Society: Industrial Attitudes and Behaviour (Cambridge, 1968).  See also Ferdynand Zweig, The British Worker (1952) and The Worker in an Affluent Society (1962)

Sheila Patterson, Immigrants in Industry (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968).

Patterson, ‘Migrants at Work’ in Dark Strangers: A Study of West Indians in London (Penguin, 1963)


Tom Murphy, A Whistle in the Dark and Other Plays (London: Methuen, 1989)

John B. Keane, Hut 42 (Dixon, Cal.: Proscenium Press, 1968).

Fintan O’Toole, Tom Murphy: The Politics of Magic (Dublin: New Island Books, 1994).

Marcus Collins, ‘Pride and Prejudice, West Indian Men in Mid-Twentieth-Century Britain’, Journal of British Studies 40.3 (2001): 391-418.


Mica Nava, Chapter 6, Visceral Cosmopolitanism: Gender, Culture and the Normalisation of Difference (Oxford, 2007)

Elizabeth Buettner, Would you let your daughter marry a negro?’ in Levine and Grayzel eds., Gender, Labour, War and Empire: Essays on Modern Britain  (London 2008)

Paul Gilroy, ‘Blacks and Crime in Post War Britian’ (1987), in Procter, ed. (2000).


11. March 29th  - Consumption 1

Extracts from papers on Report of the Commission on Emigration and Other Population Problems, 1948-1954 (Dublin: Stationary Office, 1954).

Extracts from John A. O’Brien ed., The Vanishing Irish: The Enigma of the Modern World (London: W.H. Allen, 1954).

            Edna O’Brien, The Country Girls Trilogy (London, 1986)

             Colin MacInnes, City of Spades (London, 1957)

            Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style (London, 1979)

Jefferson and Hall eds., Resistance through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-War Britain (London, 1976)

Elizabeth Buettner, ‘Going for an Indian’ South Asian Restaurants and the Limits of Multiculturalism in Britain’, The Journal of Modern History 80.4 (2008): 865-901.

Parama Roy, ‘Reading Communities and Culinary Communities: The Gastro-Poetics of the South Asian Diaspora’, positions 10 (2002): 471-502.

 Ruth Glass, Chapters 4 and 5 and Appendix C, Newcomers: West Indians in London (London, 1960)

Pearl Jephcott, A Troubled Area (London, 1964)

R. Miles, ‘The Riots of 1958’.  Notes on the Ideological Construction of ‘Race Relations’ as a Political issue in Britain. Immigrants and Minorities Vol. 3 (1984)

Katznelson, ‘The Politics of Racial Buffering in Nottingham 1948-1968’, Race Vol XI (1970)

Lamming, A Way of Seeing, in The Pleasures of Exile.

 Virinder S Kalra, From Textile Mills to Taxi Ranks (Ashgate, 2000), and other readings not yet decided.


Additional Materials:


Overviews of Post-War Britain:

David Kynaston, Austerity Britain (London, 2007) and Family Britain (London, 2011)

Peter Hennessy, Never Again: Britain 1945-51 (London, 1992) and Having it so Good: Britain in the Fifties (London, 2006)


Histories of Specific Migrant Communities (with a bias towards contemporary studies):

James L Watson, Between Two Cultures: Migrants and Minorities in Britain (Oxford, 1977)

Abner Cohen, Urban Ethnicities (London, 1974)

John Rex and Sally Tomlinson, Colonial Immigrants in a British City: A Class Analysis (London, 1979)

            Here to Stay: Bradford’s South Asian Communities (Bradford, 1994)

            Rashmi Desai, Indian Immigrants in Britain (London, 1963)

Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips, Windrush (London, 1998)

Ceri Peach, West Indian Migration to Britain: A Social Geography (Oxford University Press, 1968)

Donald Hinds, Journey to an Illusion: The West Indian in Britain (London, 1966)

Anthony Richmond, Colour Prejudice in Britain, A Study of West Indian Workers in Liverpool, 1941-51 (1954)

James Wickenden, Colour in Britain (London, 1958)

Banton The Coloured Quarter (London, 1955)

G.S. Aurora, The New Frontiersmen: A Sociological Study of Indian Immigrants in the United Kingdom (Bombay, 1967)

Enda Delaney, The Irish in Post-War Britain (Oxford, 2007)

John Jackson, The Irish in Britain (London, 1963)

Plus a large number of oral histories focusing on individual communities.

See also movinghere.org.uk


The Politics of Immigration

Gary P Freeman, Immigrant Labor and Racal Conflict in Industrial Societies (Princeton, 1979)

Edward Pilkington, Beyond the Mother Country: West Indians and the Notting Hill White Riots (London, 1988)

Kathleen Paul, Whitewashing Britain: Race and Citizenship in the Post-War Era (Ithaca, 1997)

Colin Holmes, John Bull’s Island: Immigration and British Society, 1871-1971 (Basingstoke, 1988)


Irish Sociology on Emigration and Social Change

Jeremiah Newman ed., The Limerick Rural Survey, 1958-1964 (Tipperary: Muintir na Tíre Publications, 1964); for comparable studies with a more clearly defined sociological methodology see John A Jackson, Report on the Skibbereen Social Survey (Dublin: Human Sciences Committee, 1967) and A. J. Humphreys, New Dubliners: Urbanization and the Irish Family (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966); the West Cork Resource Survey, undertaken by the Irish Agricultural Institute, though primarily quantitative in approach, does include some sociological discussion of demographics particularly in section C, “Economic Aspects of the Survey Area” (Dublin: An Foras Taluntais, 1963).

Peter Murray and Maria Feeney, The Market for Sociological Ideas in Early 1960s Ireland: Civil Service Departments and the Limerick Rural Survey, 1961-1964 (Dublin: National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, 2010), Working Paper Series No. 53.




Last Update: February 02, 2013 21:00 | Tagged with: Irish emigrants West Indian emigrants Asian emigrants Post-War Britain emigration