Available now in paperback, The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah. Benjamin Zephaniah, who has travelled the world for his art & his humanitarianism, now tells the one story that encompasses it all: the story of his life. In the early 80s when punks & Rastas were on the streets protesting about unemployment, homelessness & the National Front, Benjamin’s poetry could be heard at demonstrations, outside police stations & on the dance floor. His mission was to take poetry everywhere, & to popularise it by reaching people who didn’t read books.

His poetry was political, musical, radical and relevant. By the early 1990s, Benjamin had performed on every continent in the … More

“In ‘Why I Write’, Orwell entertainingly declared: “All writers are vain, selfish & lazy, & at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.” He divided reasons for soldiering on into “sheer egoism”, “aesthetic enthusiasm”, “historical impulse” & “political purpose”. Like Orwell, Levy is entertaining & makes his categories her chapter headings. But, unlike Orwell, she is not steadily organised. She is a maker not a clearer up of mysteries. And she is fugitive. It is this that gives the book its subtle, unpredictable, surprising atmosphere.”

The opening line hooks one instantly: “That spring when life was hard and I was at war with my lot … More

Born OTD in 1889, English comic actor, filmmaker, & composer, Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin’s childhood in London was one of poverty & hardship, as his father was absent & his mother struggled financially, & he was sent to a workhouse twice before the age of nine. When he was 14, his mother was committed to a mental asylum. Chaplin began performing at an early age, touring music halls & later working as a stage actor & comedian.

Social commentary was a feature of Chaplin’s films from early in his career, as he portrayed the underdog in a … More

Pre-order Benjamin Zephaniah’s autobiography out soon in paperback, here. Benjamin Zephaniah, who has travelled the world for his art & his humanitarianism, now tells the one story that encompasses it all: the story of his life. In the early 1980s when punks and Rastas were on the streets protesting about unemployment, homelessness & the National Front, Benjamin’s poetry could be heard at demonstrations, outside police stations & on the dance floor. His mission was to take poetry everywhere, & to popularise it by reaching people who didn’t read books.

His poetry was political, musical, radical and relevant. By the early 1990s, Benjamin had performed on every continent in the … More

Born OTD in 1928, American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou’s seven volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents & resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement and celebration.

In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in … More

Born OTD in 1923, Irish poet, short story writer, novelist & playwright who wrote in both English & Irish. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest Irish writers of all time, Brendan Behan. This diverse little collection of 21 short prose pieces by Behan, some fictional, some autobiographical, together with a selection from his 1950’s Irish Times column, caused something of a stir when it first appeared in 1981. The title story, After the Wake, was the talking point at the time, since it appeared to be about what was then something of a forbidden subject, homosexual love.

When the present collection appeared the same people dismissed the story as part of the pornographic hack work which, according … More

Benjamin Zephaniah, who has travelled the world for his art and his humanitarianism, now tells the one story that encompasses it all: the story of his life. In the early 1980s when punks and Rastas were on the streets protesting about unemployment, homelessness and the National Front, Benjamin’s poetry could be heard at demonstrations, outside police stations and on the dance floor. His mission was to take poetry everywhere, and to popularise it by reaching people who didn’t read books. His poetry was political, musical, radical and relevant.

By the early 1990s, Benjamin had performed on every continent in the world (a feat which he achieved in only … More

The eminent radical historian recalls his struggles against American racism and war, and he expresses his hope for the future, in this memoir and manifesto. The son of poor Jewish immigrants to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Zinn worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and served as a bombardier in Europe in WW II.

He attended Columbia University, received a doctorate in history in 1956, and became head of the history department at Spelman … More

Born OTD in 1948, Kenney Jones. As drummer with the Small Faces, Faces & later The Who, Kenney Jones’ unique sense of rhythm was the heartbeat that powered three of the most influential rock bands of all time. Beginning in London’s post-war East End, Kenney’s story takes us through the birth of the Mod revolution, the mind-bending days of the late-1960s and the raucous excesses of the 70s & 80s.

In a career spanning six decades, Kenney was at the epicentre of many of the most exciting moments in music … More