Alex Wheatle - Author Visit

Author Alex Wheatle recently visited the Library to talk to Year 7s about how reading inspired him to turn round his life and become an author.

Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize winner Alex Wheatle spoke about his life and writings: from his time in Brixton in the late 1970s and early 80s, when he founded the Crucial Rocker sound system and wrote poems and lyrics under the name ‘The Brixton Bard’; to his work as novelist and now a writer for young adults.

Book CoversHe discussed the personal experiences that inform his work and read from his novels Liccle Bit and Straight Outta Crongton

Alex spoke about his early life in care and reform school, and his stint in prison as a young man, a bleak time that was the result of his involvement in the Brixton uprising in the 80s; but a period he recounts with warmth and humour and as a valuable experience that directly impacted his later career.

He told us about his cellmate, who used to sing through the night from the Bible and drive Alex up the wall; but was also the one who encouraged him to take his writing seriously and to grow his interest in reading.

On his release from prison he joined the local library, he told us how on his first visit he was so excited he tried to walk off with a huge pile of books - not realising he had to have them checked out by the library staff. He eventually qualified as an engineer and became committed to writing in the 1990s, his first novel Brixton Rock was published to critical acclaim in 1999, and he received an MBE for services to literature in 2008.

The students were enthralled by his stories and asked some great questions at the end of the session. They got the chance to meet him afterwards and get signed copies of his books.

You can see photos of the visit in the gallery.

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