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The complete archive of award-winning novelist Andrea Levy has been acquired by the British Library.
Future novels, working drafts, intended and early rejection letters are among the archive of writer best known for her 2004 novel Small Island which chronicles the experiences of Windrush Generation immigrants to England, the Mother Country after the Second World War.
Other items in the archive include working drafts for her five published novels.
In a statement the British Library said the acquisition would offer the public an “opportunity to explore Levy’s life and legacy in much greater depth”.
Andrea Levy was an internationally bestselling author whose work explored her own experiences as a daughter of Windrush Generation parents who came to Britain in the post-war period, and examines the history and connections between Britain and the Caribbean.
After earning a degree in textile design and working in graphics, Levy began writing in her mid-thirties and rose to international prominence with Small Island.
The book won the Orange Prize, the Whitbread Novel Award, Whitbread Book of the Year, the Orange Best of the Best and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.
Levy’s 2010 follow-up The Long Song was short-listed for the Booker Prize and won the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
Levy’s extensive research into the history of Jamaica and her own family background is a key part of the archive, which includes audio recordings of interviews with her mother Amy Levy, used in the writing of Small Island.
There are also short stories, digital records and Levy’s email archive. Correspondence ranges from early rejection letters to letters of support and praise from writers such as Toni Morrison, Margaret Forster, Linda Grant and Joan Bakewell.
It also contains notes and drafts for unpublished and unrealised work.
Included within this are ideas for future novels, such as her intended sixth novel planned to portray the story of a marriage between a black woman and a white man and an unproduced screenplay about the life of Mary Seacole demonstrating the Jamaican nurse’s compassion and determination.
Notably, the archive also contains a darkly comic unpublished dialogue, written without expectation that others would see it, in which Levy faces up to her imminent death from cancer.
Other papers present in the archive document Levy’s commitment to issues of representation, diversity and inclusion, particularly as Executive Producer on the screen adaptation of The Long Song and in other collaborations with Lenny Henry, Gary Younge and Baroness Lola Young.
Zoë Wilcox, Curator of Contemporary Performance and Creative Archives, at the British Library said:
“Andrea Levy’s voice is present throughout her papers: vivid, alive, often chivvying herself along with notes to self in red pen.
“Whether writing about role models as diverse as James Baldwin and Julie Andrews, or trying to convince herself that her life was worthy of a memoir, Levy’s modesty, humour, and commitment to confronting the truth are evident throughout. Levy was an extraordinary writer whose literary significance will be celebrated for years to come.
Wilcox added: “Her writing is witty, unfailingly human, and consistently places British-Caribbean history at the centre of our national consciousness. We are incredibly proud that the British Library has acquired the archive for the nation in accordance with Andrea’s wishes. Following a first glimpse of her papers in our 2018 exhibition Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land, this acquisition will offer researchers the opportunity to explore Levy’s life and legacy in much greater depth.”
The British Library’s oral history collections also contain Levy’s ‘Authors’ Lives’ interview for National Life Stories. The full recording comprising over 14 hours of material is available to listen to onsite at the British Library.
Levy’s husband Bill Mayblin, said:“Late in her life it came as a surprise to Andrea that her carefully saved boxes of notes, letters and early drafts could become something as posh-sounding as an archive. But once convinced of it there was only one place she ever wanted that archive to go, and that was to the British Library.
“Not only had the Library greatly helped her research as a writer, but because much of her work examined British colonial history – a history full of omission and injustice – it seemed fitting, and somehow just, that her archive should finally find a home in a truly national institution.”
He added: “She would be very pleased that through the British Library her work and her story is now owned, and valued, by we British.”
Source : The Voice, 10 February 2020
Ian Stephenson was "bit by the bug".
It was never his intention when he started working at McDonald's as a wide-eyed 16-year-old just trying to get through his studies.
But 25 years later Ian now owns ten restaurants across Croydon.
He said: "I'm South London born and bred, so this is my patch. I have family in and around Croydon. I went to school in Lambeth."
When he finished studying after two years of part-time work at the company, Ian got the opportunity to work for a year abroad in Jamaica.
There he met Patricia Isaacs, a McDonald's grandee who brought the business to Jamaica, and it was she who set him on the path to owning his own restaurant.
"One of the things she said to me was 'Would you not want to own your own?'"
Ian said. "And she had done a very similar journey and after that it’s something I had aspirations to do. So when the opportunity unveiled itself I took it with two hands."
Ian never went to university and instead worked himself through the ranks on the business management side until he was Director of Franchises across the whole of South-East England.
But then the chance to buy two restaurants - one on the Purley Way in Waddon and the other in Thornton Heath - came up and he took it.
But why did he give up managing such a huge area to own just two restaurants?
"Being hands on and working in the restaurant is always something I’ve enjoyed," he said "Probably why I stayed with McDonald's.
"It wasn’t my intention as a 16-year-old to stay but I enjoyed that side of the business. I enjoyed serving customers but also serving and helping others around me.
Two restaurants became four, and then ten. But what is the secret to Ian's success?
He said: "It may sound blasé but you are a people business. You’re serving but you're also working with a lot of people.
"When it boils down, it's how you look after your people and how you develop them.
"Everyone working at the restaurants are at a different stage of their careers.
"If you want to progress in the business I’ve got to make sure there are programmes to do that. If you want flexibility while you’re studying, like I needed, I can do that too."
Ian estimated 70 per cent of his 1,000 employees are in some kind of education.
One of the cooks in the kitchen, Miles, is studying business management in Greenwich, another, Garfield, is studying bio-medicine.
Ian said: "From my employees I want to get what the business needs but also they need to get what they want and need.
"Generally, if you take that route, you won’t go too far wrong."
For Ian running a business isn't just about satisfying customers and looking after staff. They should also give back to the community.
"It is a responsibility of businesses to give back," he said "It could be something like football kits for the local team (they sponsor 6 teams) such as ‘All Stars’ but we also sponsor Legacy, a local youth centre."
When Ian was younger he went to youth centres so he knows how important they are.
He said: "I now operate a business in Croydon so I now have the ability to give back. If everybody does a little, we can make this a nicer place to grow up. I’ve got three kids growing up here, I've got cousins, nieces, nephews."
Last year was the worst year for retail in 25 years. Would there always be a place for McDonald's on the high street?
"I think there’ll always be a place for all business," Ian said. "The high street today is a different place to what it was 50 years ago and that very different from what it was like 50 years before that.
"The High Street is in the UK’s DNA. But you’ve got to adapt to the needs of people.
"Customers are going to determine what our High Streets will look like.
"And that’s true of all businesses, not just McDonald's."
Source : MyLondon - 10/1/20
A primary school in Stratford held an event to commemorate important figures and movements within black history.
Each year group at St Francis' Catholic Primary School focused on a particular theme for its Black History Month event on Friday, October 18.
Year 6 pupils kicked off the event with a drama and dance performance depicting the Windrush generation, while Year 4 focused on the US civil rights movement including figureheads Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks.
The children explained that their dance performance, which included excerpts of Mr King's "I have a dream" speech, paid homage to those who had fought for equality.
Headteacher Natasha Scott said the celebration was part of a curriculum redesign which is about securing a deep and broad understanding of issues.
She added: "It is about cultural capital and personal development."
This year the school dedicated four weeks to learning about black history compared to the usual two.
Staff were well prepared for the event. Speakers had been invited to talk to them about the importance of black history and how it helps all pupils, not just those with African heritage.
Year 5 pupils spent the half term working on the issue of apartheid in South Africa.
Their work culminated in a musical performance which included African drumming, songs, and raps about Nelson Mandela.
All of the pieces were created with the help and support of X7eaven, an east London performing arts studio.
It was St Francis' first Black History Month event with X7eaven, having previously worked with them for the school's international evening in the summer term.
Natasha said it was important that pupils work with the professionals.
Children in nursery, reception and years one to three had their own event on October 17. Year 2 performed a song about Barack Obama and pupils in Year 3 wrote poems about the first female black astronaut, Mae Jemison.
Natasha said: "The children have learned that black history is British history. These kinds of events are how we create tolerance."
Source: Newham Recorder, 22nd October 2019
BLAK WAVE, spearheaded by Michael Jenkins and Dr Mena Fombo, will be the first of Bristol’s 140 TV production companies to be black owned.
The company’s mission is to create content from a fresh perspective, giving a voice to those who are underrepresented on our screens and telling stories that reflect and resonate with today’s TV audiences.
Dr Mena Fombo is a highly regarded equality and diversity campaigner in Bristol. She is credited with founding Black Girl Convention and has a background in filmmaking including heading up the creative production agency Eight at Knowle West Media Centre. Co-founder Michael Jenkins is an established filmmaker whose recent documentary about St Pauls Carnival received wide acclaim. As well as making content for the BBC, he has numerous credits for Channel 4 and a range of digital platforms.
Blak Wave is being incubated by DrummerTV, the award-winning production company making entertainment and factual programming for Channel 4, BBC1, BBC3, Channel 5, CBBC and British Sign Language Broadcast Television.
Commenting on the launch, co-founder Michael Jenkins said: “I’ve been a filmmaker for the past seven years and more often than not, when I enter a commissioning room, I’m the only black person in it. Blak Wave is a huge opportunity to invest in developing new narratives and tell untold stories that reflect the population”.
Dr Mena Fombo said: “You’ve heard of a rogue wave, well now a Blak Wave is coming, and we’re inviting everyone to jump on board and ride it, this is going to be great for the industry, particularly in the South West.”
Bristol is synonymous with award winning TV output. However, diversity and a lack of representation continues to be an issue in this sector just as it is at a national level.
Tamsin Summers and Rachel Drummond Hay, directors of Drummer TV said: “When Drummer started we were one of only a handful of production companies owned by women and now Blak Wave is paving the way for BAME-led TV in our region. We’re thrilled to be supporting them. There’s a misconception that the underrepresented want to make niche programming and Mike and Mena will prove this wrong with ideas that are broad, big and bold”.
Source: Voice Newspaper, 26th October