Stephen Bourne (writer)

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Stephen Bourne
Stephen Bourne 2017.jpg
Born (1957-10-31) 31 October 1957 (age 65)
Camberwell, London, United Kingdom
OccupationWriter, film and social historian specialising in black culture
Alma materLondon College of Printing;
De Montfort University

Stephen Bourne (born 31 October 1957) is a British writer, film and social historian specialising in Black heritage and gay culture.


He was a research officer at the British Film Institute on a project that documented the history of Black people in British television.[1]

Bourne with his book Black Poppies

In 2014, Bourne's book Black Poppies: Britain's Black Community and the Great War[2] was published by The History Press.[3] Reviewing it in The Independent, Bernardine Evaristo said: "Until historians and cultural map-makers stop ignoring the historical presence of people of colour, books such as this one provide a powerful, revelatory counterbalance to the whitewashing of British history."[4]

Following the publication of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities in March 2021, Bourne revealed he was listed as a contributor to the report without his knowledge, stating that he felt manipulated.[5][6][7]


In 2002 Bourne received the Metropolitan Police Volunteer Award for his work as independent adviser on critical incidents. In 2013 Bourne was nominated for a Southwark Heritage Blue Plaque for his work as a community historian and Southwark Police independent adviser.[8] He came second with 1,025 votes.[citation needed]

In May 2017, he was honoured at the 12th Screen Nation Awards for his work on the history of Black Britons in film and television.[9] In 2017 he received an Honorary Fellowship from London South Bank University.[10][11]

TV and radio[edit]

Bourne's radio appearances have included Miss Lou at RADA (2005) with Yvonne Brewster, Raising the Bar (2015) with Sir Lenny Henry, From Shame to Pride (2017), The Film Programme (2018), Last Word (2019), The Secret History of a School (2019), Front Row (2019) and Four Thought (2020) all for BBC Radio 4; Free Thinking (2021) for BBC Radio 3; The Raw Pearl Bailey (2018) for BBC Radio 2; and Robert Elms Show (2019) for BBC Radio London. His television appearances include Black Divas (Channel 4, 1996); American Masters – Paul Robeson: Here I Stand (1999); The One Show (BBC1, 2013 and 2020 (Black History Month special)); The Culture Show: Swingin' into the Blitz (BBC2, 2016) and Home Front Heroes (More4, 2016).[citation needed]

In 2018, Bourne was interviewed about his Evelyn Dove photograph collection for BBC1's Antiques Roadshow. In 2021, he was interviewed about Evelyn Dove, Adelaide Hall and Ken 'Snakehips' Johnson in the series The Definitive History of Jazz in Britain, presented by Clive Myrie for Jazz FM. In 2022, Bourne paid tribute to Sidney Poitier in BBC Radio 4's Last Word, was interviewed about Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's daughter, the composer and conductor Avril Coleridge-Taylor in BBC Radio 3's Hidden Women and Silenced Scores and contributed to BBC Radio 4's Great Lives profile of Ira Aldridge.[citation needed]

In 1993, for Salutations, Bourne received a Race in the Media Award for Best Radio Documentary from the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE). Salutations was a nine-part series which Bourne conceived and scripted for Ladbroke Radio/BBC Radio 2 that celebrated the achievements of Black African, Caribbean and British singers and musicians from the 1930s to the 1960s. Subjects included Leslie 'Hutch' Hutchinson, Reginald Foresythe, Evelyn Dove, Leslie Thompson, Leslie 'Jiver' Hutchinson, Ken 'Snakehips' Johnson, Cyril Blake, Rudolph Dunbar, Fela Sowande, Edric Connor, Winifred Atwell, Ray Ellington, Cy Grant, Geoff Love and Shirley Bassey. The following year Bourne received a second CRE award in the same category for Black in the West End, a celebration of Black musical theatre in London's West End.[citation needed]

Black British theatre[edit]

Bourne was the recipient of a Wingate Scholarship in 2011.[12]


  • The Sun Shone on Our Side of the Street: Aunt Esther's Story, with Esther Bruce, ECOHP, 1991, ISBN 1871338077
  • Brief Encounters: Lesbians and Gays in British Cinema 1930–71, Cassell, 1996, ISBN 0304332860
  • Aunt Esther's Story, with Esther Bruce, ECOHP, 1996, ISBN 1871338123
  • Black in the British Frame: Black People in British Film and Television 1896-1996, Cassell, 1998, ISBN 9780304333752
  • A Ship and a Prayer: The Black Presence in Hammersmith and Fulham, with Sav Kyriacou, ECOHP, 1999, ISBN 187133814X
  • Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television, Cassell/Continuum, 2001, ISBN 0826455395
  • Sophisticated Lady: A Celebration of Adelaide Hall, ECOHP, 2001, ISBN 1871338158
  • Elisabeth Welch: Soft Lights and Sweet Music, Scarecrow Press, 2005, ISBN 0810854139
  • Speak of Me As I Am: The Black Presence in Southwark Since 1600, Southwark Council, 2005, ISBN 0905849426
  • Ethel Waters: Stormy Weather, Scarecrow Press, 2007, ISBN 0810859025
  • Butterfly McQueen Remembered, Scarecrow Press, 2008, ISBN 081086018X
  • Dr. Harold Moody, Southwark Council, 2008, ISBN 978-0-905849-43-0
  • Mother Country: Britain's Black Community on the Home Front 1939–45, The History Press, 2010, ISBN 0752456105
  • Nina Mae McKinney: The Black Garbo, BearManor Media, 2011, ISBN 9781593936587
  • The Motherland Calls: Britain's Black Servicemen and Women 1939–1945, The History Press, 2012, ISBN 978-0-7524-6585-2
  • Esther Bruce: A Black London Seamstress, with Esther Bruce, History and Social Action Publications, 2012, ISBN 978-0-9548943-7-5
  • Black Poppies: Britain's Black Community and the Great War, The History Press, 2014, ISBN 075249760X
  • Evelyn Dove: Britain's Black Cabaret Queen, Jacaranda Books, 2016, ISBN 9781909762350
  • Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars, I.B.Tauris, 2017/Bloomsbury Academic, 2019, ISBN 978-1-350-14322-7
  • War to Windrush: Black Women in Britain 1939–1948, Jacaranda Books, 2018, ISBN 9781909762855
  • Black Poppies: Britain's Black Community and the Great War (2nd edition, revised and updated), The History Press, 2019, ISBN 978-0-7509-9082-0
  • Playing Gay in the Golden Age of British Television, The History Press, 2019, ISBN 978-0-7509-9013-4
  • Under Fire: Black Britain in Wartime 1939-45, The History Press, 2020, ISBN 978-0-7509-9435-4 [13]
  • Deep Are the Roots: Trailblazers Who Changed Black British Theatre, The History Press, 2021, ISBN 978-0-7509-9629-7
  • Black Poppies: The Story of Britain's Black Community in the First World War (Young Readers Edition), The History Press, 2022 ISBN 978-0-7509-9963-2



  1. ^ Stephen Bourne, " Black History Hidden Treasures", BBC Blogs, 8 October 2019.
  2. ^ Sonia Brown, "Why Stephen Bourne is talking Black Communities, the Great War and Black Poppies as we Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of WW1", National Black Women's Network, 4 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Guest Post: Black Poppies – Britain’s Black Community and the Great War", Imperial War Museum Research Blog, 2014.
  4. ^ Bernardine Evaristo, "Black Poppies: Britain's Black Community and the Great War by Stephen Bourne, book review – A fascinating history lesson full of pride and prejudice", The Independent, 11 September 2014.
  5. ^ Charlie Moloney, "I was manipulated to help with race report, says historian Stephen Bourne", The Times, 1 April 2021.
  6. ^ Harrison Jones, "Participants in racism report deny being involved as backlash intensifies", The Metro, 1 April 2021.
  7. ^ Aamna Mohdin, "Experts cited in No 10’s race report claim they were not properly consulted", The Guardian, 1 April 2021.
  8. ^ Joseph Patrick McCormick, "Gay historian and police advisor Stephen Bourne nominated for blue plaque", Pink News, 17 September 2013.
  9. ^ "Historian Stephen Bourne receives Screen Nation Award". The Voice. 9 May 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  10. ^ "LSBU awards six honorary graduates and fellows", London South Bank University, 10 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Stephen Bourne, Honorary Fellow", London South Bank University.
  12. ^ "Economics, History, Law, Political Science", Record of Wingate Scholars 1988 – 2011, p. 2.
  13. ^ Stephen Bourne, "Under Fire: Black Britain in Wartime 1939-45" at Google Books.

External links[edit]