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Black Ink Collection

Identifier: BLACK-INK


  • Creation: 1975 - 2017

Biographical / Historical

Black Ink Collective was a publishing initiative founded in 1978 to collect, publish and distribute the work of young Black writers in the UK. Black Ink aimed to support work that accurately reflected the experience of young Black people living in inner city areas and provide opportunities for young people to write and have their work published. Black Ink was conceived towards the end of 1977 and began in April 1978. At that time there was little published material available which was written by young people. Several English teachers working in inner London had long recognised the value of literary material which reflected the lives and experiences of young people from different ethnic backgrounds, their experience had shown that younger people responded well to material produced by their contemporaries.

The project was originally funded by the Manpower Services Commission (until December 1978) and originally consisted of a project team of eight workers: Desrie Adams (later, Desrie Thomson-George), Peter Bastick, Tyrone Bravo, Sue Herrod, Donna Moore, Charles Rose, Ronnie Smith and Neil Williams. All of which had experiences with young people and who collectively, had skills in writing and graphics. Although the project was independent it worked with the support of the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) and used premises provided at a nominal rent by the Lambeth Council for Community Relations Gresham Supplementary Education Project.

A Management Committee was also set up to support the project. Its original members were Chairperson, Alex McIntosh, Chief Assistant Librarian of London Borough of Brent; as Secretary, Jim Payne; and as Treasurer, David Bryan of Sabarr Bookshop. Other members included the Warden of the ILEA English Centre, the Director of the Gresham Project and four local teachers. The project was organised on a collective basis. Members of the collective shared editing, layout, plate-making, printing, secretarial and administrative duties equally. The team would meet weekly to discuss administrative business and plan the following week’s activities (minutes from these meetings are held BLACK-INK/2/4). The Black Ink team were all engaged in the search for exciting and interesting writing- poems, plays, stories and autobiographies. Black Ink intended its publications to be free from the racist and sexist characteristics that were found in many literary materials. Its first publication, an anthology of plays, poems and prose by young Black Londoners was produced in 1978, and subsequent titles included The School Leaver by Michael McMillan (1978), Wasted Women Friends and Lovers: an anthology by young writers (1978), Black-Eye Perceptions (1981) and Livingroom (1983).

Black Ink also established The Black Writers' Workshop in 1979, who met weekly at their premises at 258 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, south London. The writers' workshop incorporated readings, performances and aimed to "incorporate African and Caribbean orality into a Black British poetic voice" and was attended by writers including Benjamin Zephaniah, S. I. Martin, Desmond Johnson, Fred D'Aguiar and Michael McMillan. Writers such as C L R James, Edward Kamau Braithwaite, and James Berry were also keen visitors and participated as mentors.


7 Boxes

1 oversized item

Language of Materials


Related Materials

ORAL/53: Interview with Desrie Thomson-George, 2014

MCKENLEY/3/1: "Brixton Defence Campaign", 27 May-7 June 1981

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Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives Collection Repository

Black Cultural Archives
1 Windrush Square