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“If I can write about how Britain as a society is transforming itself, then maybe one is filling in some of the gaps that have been left out by the media, by history, by the politicians.”

A playwright, screen writer, novelist and essayist

Photo by Guy Farrar

Caryl Phillips in conversation with Emily Zobel Marshall

In 1971 two British policemen in Leeds were accused of the manslaughter of a Nigerian homeless man, David Oluwale. Speaking in front of an audience at The Leeds Library, Caryl Phillips reflects on the legacy of David Oluwale and the campaign to remember him in defiance of racists. (Photo by Guy Farrar)


Caryl Phillips began his writing life as a playwright. His early plays include Strange Fruit, Where There is Darkness and The Shelter. He wrote the screenplay for the film Playing Away and for the Merchant Ivory adaptation of V.S.Naipaul’s The Mystic Masseur. His novels include: The Final Passage, The Nature of Blood, Dancing in the Dark, and Foreigners. His non-fiction: The European Tribe and The Atlantic Sound.

His literary awards include the Martin Luther King Memorial Prizeand Britain’s oldest literary award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, for Crossing the River. He is presently Professor of English at Yale University.