e-Duke Books

Familiar Stranger:

A Life Between Two Islands

By Stuart Hall
Edited by Bill Schwarz

"Sometimes I feel myself to have been the last colonial." This, in his own words, is the extraordinary story of the life and career of Stuart Hall—how his experiences shaped his intellectual, political, and theoretical work and how he became one of his age's brightest intellectual lights.

Growing up in a middle-class family in 1930s Kingston, Jamaica, still then a British colony, the young Stuart Hall found himself uncomfortable in his own home. He lived among Kingston's stiflingly respectable brown middle class, who, in their habits and ambitions, measured themselves against the white elite. As colonial rule was challenged, things began to change in Kingston and across the world. In 1951 a Rhodes scholarship took Hall across the Atlantic to Oxford University, where he met young Jamaicans from all walks of life, as well as writers and thinkers from across the Caribbean, including V. S. Naipaul and George Lamming. While at Oxford he met Raymond Williams, Charles Taylor, and other leading intellectuals, with whom he helped found the intellectual and political movement known as the New Left. With the emotional aftershock of colonialism still pulsing through him, Hall faced a new struggle: that of building a home, a life, and an identity in a postwar England so rife with racism that it could barely recognize his humanity.

With great insight, compassion, and wit, Hall tells the story of his early life, taking readers on a journey through the sights, smells, and streets of 1930s Kingston while reflecting on the thorny politics of 1950s and 1960s Britain. Full of passion and wisdom, Familiar Stranger is the intellectual memoir of one of our greatest minds.

Series: 
  • Stuart Hall: Selected Writings

Bibliographic Information

Title: 
Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands
By: 
  • Stuart Hall
Edited by: 
  • Bill Schwarz
Published: 
2017-03-16
Copyright year: 
  • 2017
ISBN electronic: 
978-0-8223-7293-6
ISBN cloth: 
978-0-8223-6387-3
Series: 
Stuart Hall: Selected Writings

Author Bio

  • Stuart Hall (1932–2014) was one of the most prominent and influential scholars and public intellectuals of his generation. He was a prolific writer and speaker and a public voice for critical intelligence and social justice who appeared widely on British television and radio. He taught at the University of Birmingham and the Open University, was the founding editor of New Left Review, and served as the director of Birmingham’s Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies during its most creative and influential decade. He is the author of Selected Political Writings: The Great Moving Right Show and Other Essays and Cultural Studies 1983: A Theoretical History, both also published by Duke University Press. Bill Schwarz is Professor of English at Queen Mary University of London, author of Memories of Empire, Volume I: The White Man's World, and an editor of History Workshop Journal. Schwarz and Catherine Hall are Stuart Hall's literary executors.