Alex Wheatle - Author

About the Author

Born in 1963 to Jamaican parents living in Brixton, ALEX WHEATLE spent most of his childhood in a Surrey children's home. He returned to Brixton in 1977 where he founded the Crucial Rocker sound system and performed his own songs and lyrics under the name of Yardman Irie. He spent a short stint in prison following the Brixton uprising of 1981. Following his release from prison he continued to write poems and lyrics and became known as the Brixton Bard. Alex's first novel, BRIXTON ROCK, was published to critical acclaim in 1999. Five more novels, EAST OF ACRE LANE, THE SEVEN SISTERS, ISLAND SONGS, CHECKERS and THE DIRTY SOUTH followed, all highly praised. His books are on school reading lists, Alex takes part in Black History Month every year, works with Streatham Youth Community Trust, helping to run a homework club. He is representing English PEN, and tours the country with his one-man show, UPRISING. He teaches in various places including Lambeth College, holds workshops in prisons and is frequently invited to schools to speak to students, inspiring in them with his own story a passion for literature. Alex also appears regularly on BBC1's The One Show and on radio. In the autumn of 2010 he wrote and performed his own one-man autobiographical show for Tara Arts, UPRISING, and took the performance on tour in October 2012. He was at Harrogate Crime Writing Festival in July 2011. He was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to literature in 2008. A favourite of reading groups and libraries, he is UK's most read Black British author. He is working on a non-fiction book about Black Britain and on more Young Adult novels. He lives with his family in South London.

Featured books by Alex Wheatle

Witness

Witness

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

To tell the truth? Or protect his family? Cornell is having a bad time. Kicked out of secondary school for a fight he didn't start, he finds himself in a Pupil Referral Unit. Here he makes friends with one of the Sinclair family. You don't mess with the Sinclairs, and when Ryan Sinclair demands Cornell comes with him to teach another student some respect, Ryan witnesses something that will change his life. Torn between protecting his family and himself, Cornell has one hell of a decision to make. This is published as part of the Quick Reads series, which aims to share the joy of reading with adults who are improving their literacy. It is Alex Wheatle at his best: a thrilling, pacy story that is full of moral complexity and insight into gang violence.

Cane Warriors

Cane Warriors

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/10/2020

Written with luminous, crackling style, Cane Warriors is an unforgettable account of Jamaican and British history that must be known, with an unforgettable narrator at its heart. In the words of fourteen-year-old Moa, “the hope of our dreamland churned in my belly,” a powerful statement that pulses through this extraordinary story of Tacky’s War. Based on a revolutionary real-life 1760 Jamaican slave rebellion, a visceral sense of the atrocities Moa and his fellow field slaves are subjected to is evoked from the start. Their bodies are lashed and “roasted by a brutal sun”, Moa hasn’t seen his house-slave mama for three years, his papa lost an arm in mill machinery, and his friend Hamaya fears the day predatory white men will “come for me.” Spurred by the death of Miss Pam who “drop inna da field and lose her life”, and led by Miss Pam’s brother Tacky, who “trod like a king” and whose brain “work quick like Anancy”, the uprising hinges on the freedom fighters killing the plantation master. While Moa is glad to be given a pivotal role in the rebellion, he fears that success and escape will mean he’ll never see his parents or Hamaya again - his conflict is palpable, but he’s set on being a cane warrior. Outside the plantation, Moa’s world is immediately transformed, with his life as a freedom fighter evoked in fine detail (I loved the depiction of him tasting creamy, fleshy sweetsop for the first time). There are bloody battles ahead, executed in the presence of Akan gods, and driven by brotherhood and hope for that dreamland. Lucidly lyrical and raw, I cannot praise Cane Warriors enough.

Books of the Month
Straight Outta Crongton

Straight Outta Crongton

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/04/2017

Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 |  From the acclaimed author of Liccle Bit and Crongton Knights, comes another story from the South Crong council estate. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

eBooks of the Month

Other books by Alex Wheatle

Kemosha of the Caribbean

Kemosha of the Caribbean

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

'A vivid and powerful story ... Another tour de force by Alex Wheatle, a truly gifted storyteller' David Olusoga Kemosha and her brother have lived their whole lives in slavery. Sold away to work in lawless Port Royal, Kemosha takes her chance to escape brutal treatment. With fortune on her side, Kemosha befriends Ravenhide, a man with a mysterious past who teaches her the art of swordfighting, and introduces her to the beautiful runaway Isabella. Yet Kemosha's greatest test yet is upon the deck of the Satisfaction: the notorious Captain Morgan's ship. His next adventure on the high seas could be the making of Kemosha - and her one chance to earn enough pieces of eight to buy the freedom of her brother...

Island Songs

Island Songs

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 28/10/2021

Island Songs by Alex Wheatle

Cane Warriors

Cane Warriors

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/10/2021

Winner of the Young Quills Historical Fiction Award Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize, Diverse Book Award and Iris Award Longlisted for the YA Jhalak Prize and UKLA Book Award Nominated for the Carnegie Medal Nobody free till everybody free. Moa is fourteen. The only life he has ever known is toiling on the Frontier sugar cane plantation for endless hot days, fearing the vicious whips of the overseers. Then one night he learns of an uprising, led by the charismatic Tacky. Moa is to be a cane warrior, and fight for the freedom of all the enslaved people in the nearby plantations. But before they can escape, Moa and his friend Keverton must face their first great task: to kill their overseer, Misser Donaldson. Time is ticking, and the day of the uprising approaches . . . Irresistible, gripping and unforgettable, Cane Warriors follows the true story of Tacky's War in Jamaica, 1760.

Straight Outta Crongton

Straight Outta Crongton

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 15/04/2021

Straight Outta Crongton by Alex Wheatle

Crongton Knights

Crongton Knights

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 25/02/2021

Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle

The Humiliations of Welton Blake

The Humiliations of Welton Blake

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/01/2021

Welton Blake has done it! He's asked out Carmella McKenzie - the best-looking girl in school - and she's only gone and said yes! But just as he thinks his luck is starting to change, Welton's phone breaks, kick-starting a series of unfortunate and humiliating events. With bullies to avoid, girls ready to knock him out and all the drama with his mum and dad, life for Welton is about to go very, very wrong ... Hilarity follows disaster in this sharp-witted tale of the trials of teen life from award-winning author Alex Wheatle.

Brixton Rock

Brixton Rock

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/12/2020

Pacey; witty; his characters are real and recognisable LINTON KWESI JOHNSON Alex Wheatle is the real deal; he writes with heart and authenticity, books that make you laugh and worry and cry and hold your breath KIT DE WAAL Alex Wheatle writes from a place of honesty and passion STEVE McQUEEN, director of Small Axe South London in the 1980s. Brenton Brown is a 16-year-old mixed-heritage boy who has lived in a children's home all his life. He has never met his mother and is haunted by her loss. The best thing happens: Brenton is reunited with his mother, Cynthia. And then the worst: he falls in love with his beautiful half-sister, Juliet. At the same time, Brenton meets his nemesis in the shape of Terry Flynn, a killer who scars him for life. Brenton must seek revenge. All this leads to an explosive climax as Brenton struggles to hold on to his sanity. Brixton Rock is the powerfully explosive debut of one of the UK's finest writers, with pitch-perfect descriptions of South London street life.

Home Girl

Home Girl

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 26/09/2019

Home Girl by Alex Wheatle

Home Girl

Home Girl

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/04/2019

'Alex Wheatle is the real deal; he writes with heart and authenticity, books that make you laugh and worry and cry and hold your breath. It's a pity there's only one of him' Kit de Waal 'I love Alex and all he stands for in the world of literature' Kerry Hudson 'Alex Wheatle is an inspirer. He is a vital writer. He is a prince among men. Long may he reign' Lemn Sissay 'An author with great talent and great heart' David Almond 'A major voice in British children's literature' S F Said 'Alex is a one of our foremost literary activists, giving voice to the black working class experience with unsurpassed clarity and compassion. For this alone he should be universally considered a national treasure' Stephen Kelman 'A writer who knows unseen places, unheard people and untold stories because he has lived a life that might have remained hidden if he hadn't found within him the urge and talent to write' Yasmin Alibhai-Brown 'This isn't my home. Haven't had a proper home since...This is just somewhere I'll be resting my bones for a week and maybe a bit. This time next year you'll forget who I am. I haven't got a diddly where I'll be by then. But I'm used to it' New from the winner of the Guardian Children's Book Award: Home Girl is the story of Naomi, a teenage girl growing up fast in the care system. It is a wholly modern story which sheds a much needed light on what can be an unsettling life - and the consequences that can follow when children are treated like pawns on a family chessboard. Home Girl is fast-paced and funny, tender, tragic and full of courage - just like Naomi. It is award-winning author Alex Wheatle's most moving and personal novel to date.

Home Boys

Home Boys

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/05/2018

Four friends decide to run away from the horror of their everyday lives in a children's home in the English countryside. They head for the woods, their sense of freedom surprises them, and for the first time they feel the exhilaration of adolescence. Yet the forest slowly asserts its own power and what happens there will affect the four boys' lives forever. With his trademark humour, compelling narrative directness, and rhythmic prose, Alex Wheatle here shows himself to be an author of real calibre, exposing the social stigma associated with children's homes, and the psychological consequences of their impact on sensitive children. Never losing pace or failing to engage the reader at every moment, 'Home Boys' is an unflinchingly honest depiction of childhood.

Uprising: A True Story

Uprising: A True Story

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/05/2017

This is the gritty but inspiring true story of the award-winning author Alex Wheatle. Alex had a tough start in life. He was abandoned by his family as a young child and grew up in a care home. After being expelled from school as a teenager, he was sent to live in a hostel in Brixton. There, Alex found music and friends but he also got mixed up in drugs and violence. When he was sent to prison for taking part in the Brixton Uprising, Alex's future seemed hopeless. But then something happened to change his life . . . SERIES INFORMATION This page-turning story from award-winning author Alex Wheatle is part of the Diffusion books range, written especially for adults and teenagers who want to improve their reading skills. Easy-to-read, with short chapters, the books in the series enable learners to practice their reading skills and build up their reading confidence. They are also a brilliant choice for anyone learning English as an additional language. The books also include discussion and reflection questions that help readers to understand the story and to reflect on their own lives and relationships. Buying this book will support our project to help people in prison improve both their reading skills and their life chances. To find out more visit https://spckpublishing.co.uk/diffusion-books

Crongton Knights

Crongton Knights

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/03/2016

Winner of the Guardian Children Fiction's Prize 2016 Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2017 Living on the South Crongton council estate has its worries - and life for McKay has been even tougher since his mum died. His dad has been working all hours to keep the bailiffs from their door. His brother is always out riding the streets at night, tempting trouble. And now, having strayed off his turf on a 'heroic' (if misguided) mission to help out a girl, McKay finds himself facing a friend's crazy ex-boyfriend, some power-tripping hood-rats and a notoriously violent gangster with a vendetta which hits too close to home. Poor McKay. He never asked for trouble ...But during one madcap night of adventure and danger, he will find out who his true friends are and what it means to stick with your family. Crongton Knights is a very funny, very moving story that shows that although life is testing, the lessons learned the hard way are the ones you'll never forget.

Liccle Bit

Liccle Bit

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/03/2015

What's worse than hiding a secret? Liccle Bit's about to find out... Venetia King is the hottest girl at school. Too bad Lemar is the second shortest guy in his year. Everyone calls him Liccle Bit, and his two best friends, McKay and Jonah, never tire of telling him he has no chance with girls. Things aren't much better at home. His mum is permanently hassled, his sister a frustrated single mum and his dad moved out years ago. Liccle Bit wishes he could do something - anything! - to make life better. A new phone would be a start... When Venetia starts paying Liccle Bit attention, he secretly hopes he's on a fast track to a first date. Unfortunately, as a new gang war breaks out, he finds himself on a fast track to something much more sinister. South Crongton's notorious gang leader has taken an interest in Liccle Bit. Before he knows what's happening, he finds himself running errands. But when he hears about a killing on the estate, Liccle Bit is forced to question his choices. How can he possibly put things right?

Brenton Brown

Brenton Brown

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/06/2011

Juliet is consumed with guilt because she knows that her half-brother, Brenton, grew up in children's homes with no family while she received all her mother's love. She marries Clayton, a successful banker, to please her mother. He treats her daughter, Breanna, like his own - but secretly he has always suspected that there has been something going on between Juliet and Brenton. Meanwhile, Juliet and Brenton try to stay away from what they know is a forbidden love...

The Dirty South

The Dirty South

Author: Alex Wheatle Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/04/2009

Brixton, twenty years after the race riots. Teenager Dennis Huggins drifts into the easy, dangerous life of the shotta - or drug dealer - and discovers that, hard as the struggle for respect on the streets is, the struggle for love is harder still. At least Dennis has involved parents looking out for him; too many of his friends drift through life with no positive influences or moral code; their only 'family' their fellow dealers. Wheatle brilliantly evokes the temptations of the thug life for young black men growing up in London's 'Dirty South' - this is a fast, compelling novel that offers no easy answers, but refuses to shy away from asking the difficult questions.

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