JAMES, Cyril Lionel Robert (CLR) (1901-1989)

Scope and Content

Papers of Cyril Lionel Robert (CLR) James on Caribbean politics, 1940-1965; comprising papers on West Indian Federation, 1958-1962; West Indian Federal Labour Party (WIFLP) correspondence, 1958-1961, including correspondence with Norman W Manley, on Federation, politics in Trinidad and Jamaica, illegal voting at Jamaican elections, and James's resignation as Secretary of WFILP; papers on the University of the West Indies, 1962-1963; papers on political parties and trade unions in Barbados, 1940-1964; papers on politics in British Guiana, 1958-1963; papers on politics in Grenada, 1957; papers on politics in Jamaica, 1952-1963; papers on the People's National Movement, Trinidad, 1957-1962, including correspondence on James's appearance before the Disciplinary Committee, 1961; papers on the West Indian Independence Party, Trinidad, 1955-1956; papers on Sugar workers in Trinidad, 1963-1964; papers on Oil workers in Trinidad, 1954-1960; papers on West Indian organisations in Britain, 1963 (Union of West Indian Students, West Indian Editorial Committee, West Indies Committee for National Sovereignty, West Indies Committee for Peace and Sovereignty); lectures and essays by various authors; papers on arts and literature in the West Indies, 1957-1963; personal correspondence, 1959-1960; copies of publications by James.

Administrative / Biographical History

Cyril Lionel Robert (CLR) James was born in Trinidad on 4 January 1901. He trained as a teacher, and worked as a teacher and journalist in Trinidad. James left Trinidad in 1932 at the instigation of the cricketer Learie Constantine (later Lord Constantine) and went to stay with him in Nelson, Lancashire. He worked as a cricket correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, 1933-1935, and also became a prominent member of the Trotskyist movement. For a time he was a member of the Independent Labour Party, and he campaigned actively against the Italian invasion of Abyssinia. He moved to the United States in 1938, and spent 15 years there writing and lecturing mainly on the Pan-African Movement. He left the Trotskyist movement in 1951, though he remained a convinced Marxist. He was expelled from the US because of his Communist views in 1953, returned to Britain and became active in the African independence movement. In 1958 he returned to Trinidad at the invitation of Dr Eric Williams, to edit the People's National Party newspaper. He also became secretary of the West Indies Federal Labour Party, and campaigned unsuccessfully against the break-up of the Federation of the West Indies. James soon quarrelled with Williams, and left Trinidad in 1963. In the 1960s and 1970s he lectured extensively in the United States and Europe. In 1963 he published Beyond a Boundary which explored the place of cricket in popular culture, especially in the colonial context, regarded by many as the greatest book ever written about cricket. He died in Brixton, London in 1989.


Papers are arranged in 11 series A: West Indies, B: Barbados, C: British Guiana, D: Grenada, E: Jamaica, F: Trinidad, G West Indian Organisations in Britain, H: lectures and essays, I: Arts and Literature in the West Indies, J; Personal Correspondence, K: Publications

Access Information

Open although advance notice should be given. Access to individual items may be restricted under the Data Protection Act or the Freedom of Information Act.

Acquisition Information

The papers were deposited at the ICS by C L R James in 1966.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued to file level.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Alan Kucia as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

A photocopying service is available, at the discretion of the Library staff. Copies are supplied solely for research or private study. Requests to publish, or to quote from, original material should be submitted to the Information Resources Manager.