I was sorry to hear on the news last night that the author of the wonderful book To Sir With Love had died. I have the old Penguin book of this memoir that came out in 1959. I remember when the movie came out I was in high school or just out of it. Sidney Poitier had broken onto the film scene and everyone loved him. I have not read the book but this has reminded me of it and of how much I loved the story. I should find it on my shelf and have a read. (So many books jumping out at me lately.)
I lifted this short bio below from Voice of America news so the credit goes to them. I didn’t want this to pass without recognising how much I appreciated his story especially at the time it was written.
Guyanese author, teacher and diplomat E.R. Braithwaite, whose 1959 book To Sir, With Love told the story of a black teacher struggling in a classroom in a white London slum, has died in surburban Washington at age 104.
Braithwaite moved into teaching after a career as an oil worker and serving in Britain’s Royal Air Force during World War II.
He chose the profession after being denied an engineering job because he was black and found himself facing a schoolroom of antisocial, violent and occasionally racist poor whites in a London slum.
But he soon discovered that by showing the unruly students simple respect, he got the same from them and wrote about his experiences in his memoir To Sir With Love.
The book was made into a highly successful 1967 film starring Sidney Portier and British pop star Lulu.
6 thoughts on “RIP author E. R. Braithwaite”
I read the book before I saw the film as I recollect, and lost them both. I read a lot of “social justice” fiction and memoirs in my teens and twenties. As I recollect this has a “shocking” sanitary pad scheme that the teacher handles with aplomb.
And Lulu singing the theme song to the movie is unforgettable. Vale Mr Brant Waite indeed. Thanks for letting us know Pam.
Actually I have lost the book, but I meant “loved” them both. 😀
“one of nature’s noblemen” as my father used to say; i have much respect for those who have mastered situations that to most of us seem impossible; like teaching successfully in a hostile environment….
He had quite a diverse life. To live to age 104 is quite a milestone also.
Yes it is sad. Especially when these people have been in the background of our lives forever and our memories are linked to what they produced in their time.
Too many of the voices of this generation are being stilled. Inevitable, I know, but it’s still sad.
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