|To Sir, with Love
||[Dec. 13th, 2016|09:13 pm]
The BBC has announced the death, aged 104, of E. R. Braithwaite, best known as author of To Sir, with Love, an autobiographical novel about his time as a teacher in the East End of London; the book, in turn, is best known as the basis for a film starring Sidney Poitier and Lulu (and how often do you get to join those names?). It's a long time since I read the book, but the assessment in this article in London Fictions matches my recollection: an interesting account of a particular place and time, not the greatest literature but well enough told, though the hero / narrator is perhaps a bit too good to be true (or sympathetic).
I had a particular reason to be interested, though. My mother always claimed that Braithwaite's job in the East End was as her maternity leave replacement, which made me in a way responsible for the book. We took this, as we took all my mother's stories, with a pinch of salt: she was a great myth-maker, and lived the post-truth life half a century before the term was invented. Nonetheless, it's not impossible. That London Fictions piece identifies the school as St George in the East, where I believe she taught (and which sounds like quite somewhere in itself), and a biography on the British Library site places it in 1951, which is right. So who knows?