A race outcast from an outcast class: Claude McKay’s experience and analysis of Britain

Winston James

in West Indian Intellectuals in Britain

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780719064746
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700426 | DOI:
A race outcast from an outcast class: Claude McKay’s experience and analysis of Britain

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Claude McKay ended his days hating England and the civilisation it represented. McKay journeyed from New York after an absence of more than seven years from his native Jamaica. He was the first Caribbean intellectual to describe what it meant to be black in Britain. His membership of the Workers' Socialist Federation (WSF) provided McKay with important insights into the politics of the metropolis. The International Socialist Club (ISC) had a two-fold impact upon McKay, one political, the other intellectual. In addition to the ISC and the 1917, McKay for a short time frequented a small club on Drury Lane specially established for non-white colonial and Afro-American soldiers. McKay described his time in London as ‘that most miserable of years’; an ‘ordeal’. His disappointment stems from his experience and from his expectations. He never complained of loneliness; he complained of hostility.

Keywords: Claude McKay; Britain; civilisation; Workers' Socialist Federation; International Socialist Club; 1917; Drury Lane

Chapter.  10102 words. 

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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