AUTOBIOGRAPHY (Compass, 2015)
‘Historic day…The British Museum is closed.’ This was the sensational headline in British newspapers of the day. Why was the Museum closed? Over the centuries, waves of people have visited and settled in the British Isles, but few have chronicled their lives; fewer still have written an in-depth, full autobiography, spanning the years from birth to later life. In this sense, TURNING PAGES is a first.
RON RAMDIN had left the Caribbean as an impoverished Colonial teenager and landed in England more in hope than expectation. Soon after his chastening ‘Dole’ experience and finding his first job in a library, he dared to think of becoming a writer. Sensitive to social injustice, as an effective workers’ leader (the first black person to be so elected at this workplace) he became well-known for his significant contributions in the British Museum and in the foundational years of the British Library, as well as in the Archives, Museums and Galleries Sector nationally.
Through his encounter with the famous Round Reading Room in the British Museum, he learned of the great writers who had sat and worked there: Thackeray, Dickens, Marx and Shaw. Instead of being dwarfed by their legacy and the pedigree of the famous Bloomsbury Group, in TURNING PAGES we meet a latter day and no less ‘radical’ Bloomsbury figure in Ron Ramdin who was dubbed by publisher Tim O’Keeffe: ‘The Lenin of Museum Street.’ But this book is less about revolution than it is about evolution. It is a rich tapestry of British-Caribbean social history: From the very lowliest job in the University of London to gaining the University’s Highest Doctorate, the Doctor of Literature. TURNING PAGES is a revealing Self-Portrait painted on a broad canvass. Evocative of crossing boundaries, it is underscored by certain ideas and themes: where and what is home? and respect for difference that are, as Ramdin argues, central to the human predicament. His unusual life and multifaceted intellectual-literary odyssey incorporating six genres spans over fifty years; and now his second novel The Griot’s Tale, a ‘masterpiece’ is being translated into Spanish and will be published by Arte y Literatura and Casas de las Americas. TURNING PAGES is an original and truly inspiring book which deserves to be widely read. In scope and depth, through his unique oeuvre, Ron Ramdin emerges as an ‘outstanding’ writer and Thinker.
‘I am awed by the sheer weight and power of the book…attempting another expresses the magnitude of your capability and talent for doing purposeful and precious service to humanity…remember that spreading the good word in distant parts of the world… Trinidad and Tobago now shines like a beacon with your illustrious contribution.’
WILLI CHEN, Distinguished Artist, Writer and Critic
‘As sponsors of the Cardiff-Whitbread Lecture, Whitbread and Random House UK Limited are delighted to provide you with this Memento of the 1997 Lecture by Ron Ramdin. This is the Fifth Annual Lecture…The first was given by Booker Prize-winning novelist Barry Unsworth, and in the following years the writer and broadcaster Michele Roberts, the acclaimed novelist and Crime Writer P.D. James and Whitbread Award-winning biographer and novelist Victoria Glendinning. By offering public access to authors of this standing, our aim is to broaden the understanding of Modern Literature.’
FOREWORD to Ron Ramdin’s Homelessness and the Novel, the 1997 Lecture
‘To Ron – A civilising influence from a savage admirer.’
PROFESSOR FELIPE FERNANDEZ-ARMESTO’S Inscription in his book CIVILIZATIONS presented to Ron Ramdin at The Cheltenham Festival of Literature 2001
copyright © Ron Ramdin 2000 – 2021