Black and British: A short, essential history

Black and British: A short, essential history

By Author / Illustrator

David Olusoga


Representation & Inclusion

Age range(s)



Pan Macmillan




Paperback / softback




Winner of the Book of the Year, Children's Illustrated and Non-Fiction at The British Book Awards, 2021. Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2020

A short, essential introduction to Black British history for readers of 12+ by award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga.  When did Africans first come to Britain?  Who are the well-dressed black children in Georgian paintings?  Why did the American Civil War disrupt the Industrial Revolution?

These and many other questions are answered in this essential introduction to 1800 years of the Black British history: from the Roman Africans who guarded Hadrian's Wall right up to the present day.

This children's version of the bestseller Black and British: A Forgotten History is illustrated with maps, photos and portraits. Macmillan Children's Books will donate 50p from every copy sold to The Black Curriculum.



2020 will be remembered for many reasons - but especially because it was the year in which the urgent need for putting Black British history back in the curriculum was finally recognised, and the drive to make it both mainstream and mandatory gathered huge momentum as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement.* Black and British: A Short, Essential History is an unbeatable and timely tool for anyone wanting to address this systemic racism, be an effective ally and bring about real social change.

Adapted and updated from the bestselling adult edition of the same title, this astoundingly readable, perfectly-pitched, short essential history has been written with secondary school students in mind. Award-winning historian, author and presenter Olusoga is a born communicator and concisely traces the varied history of Black peoples in Britain chronologically, from the Roman Africans guarding Hadrian's Wall to the Windrush Scandal and the toppling of the Colston statue in Bristol. Maps, photos, portraits, archival documents, pop-outs and fact boxes all illustrate the text, increasing our understanding of our country today and showing how national history intertwines with family history for so many.

Olusoga excels at putting the human story back into hiSTORY, bringing to life the stories of some of the extraordinary people who made and continue to share our culture and history. People like John Blanke, trumpeter at the Tudor court, early abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, campaigner Henry Box Brown who mailed himself out of slavery in a wooden box and First World War soldier, Walter Tull through to the first Black Mayor of Southwark, Sam King.

Black and British: A Short Essential History is one of those eye-opening, absolute must-read books which has as much to teach adults as children. It's full of 'did you know this?' facts to spark sharing and discussion. As an introduction to understanding black British history it is expertly-crafted: as accessible and appealing as it is thought-provoking, putting recent events into context and inspiring students to ask questions and find out more for themselves. Olusoga is rightly passionate about his topic but sets the record straight in a way which is calm, reasoned, engaging and always backed up with evidence. It is a remarkable feat, empowering and giving hope for the future. We absolutely need him to write more for this age group.

Black and British: A Short, Essential History needs to be shared in every school in the country and written into every curriculum scheme of work from y7 through to GCSE to ensure all our young people see themselves in the world and become informed, engaged and empathetic citizens. School librarians will be championing this book all year long - not just for a token Black History Month - so that no-one is ignored, overlooked or eradicated from our history in the future.

In September 2021, an illustrated version of Black and British for KS2 children, aged 8+, will be published featuring the major events in black British history and biographies of key figures. For KS3 students keen to find out more, Robin Walker provides an overview of Black world history in Black History Matters. KS4/5 students will relish Olusoga's unabridged edition, Black and British: a Forgotten History as well as Akala's Natives and Reni Eddo-Lodge's Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race. Nikesh Shukla's collection of essays, The Good Immigrant, is another important and insightful contribution to the conversation around British culture and identity.

* Black Curriculum is a social enterprise set up to address the lack of black British history in the UK curriculum. Publisher Macmillan Children's Books makes a 50p donation for every copy of this book sold.

176 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Eileen Armstrong, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 11+


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