CLR James was a journalist, historian and political activist, whose writings on cricket, history and Marxism continue to be influential. He was born in Trinidad and Tobago, moving to England in 1932 to work as a journalist, where he helped the cricketer Learie Constanine to write his autobiography Cricket and I. In England he became active in a number of anti-colonial movements, published his first writings and became a Trotskyist. He wrote a play Toussaint Louverture and later a book about the Haiti revolt The Black Jacobins, now regarded as a classic of Marxist history.
In 1938 he moved to the USA where he lived for 20 years and formed a small Trotskyist organisation called 'the Workers Party', working and writing with Raya Dunayevskaya. He now viewed the Soviet Union as a state capitalist society, and not a deformed workers state, which was the orthodox Trotskyist view.
He was eventually forced to leave the USA and returned to England. In 1958 he moved to Trinidad, editing a pro-independence newspaper. He became involved in the Pan-African movement and also in attempts to establish a West Indian Federation. In 1963 he published his autobiography Beyond a Boundary.
In 1968 he was able to return to the USA to teach in a college. In his later years he returned to England where he died. In the years since his death interest in his work and ideas has continued to grow.
Sources about C. L. R. James in our collection
Anthony Bogues , Caliban's freedom :the early political thought of C. L. R. James (1997)
Paul-Buhle (editor), C. L. R. James :his life and work (1986)
Anna Grimshaw (editor), The C. L. R. James Reader (1992)
James D Young , The World of C. L. R. James: the unfragmented vision (c1999)
Books by C. L. R. James
Beyond A Boundary (1969)
The Black Jacobins (reprint) (1980)
The Future in the Present: selected writings (1977)
A History of Negro Revolt (1938)
Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: the story of Herman Melville and the world we live in (1985)
Modern Politics (1973)
Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution (1977)
Spheres of Existence: selected writings (1980)
World Revolution, 1917-1936: the rise and fall of the Communist International (1937)