Photo credit: Alan J. Robertson

Stephen Bourne is a writer, film and social historian specialising in black heritage and gay culture. His best-known book is Black Poppies – Britain’s Black Community and the Great War which was first published by The History Press in 2014 to coincide with the centenary of World War One. For Black Poppies, Stephen received the Southwark Arts Literature award. In 2019 a new edition was published and in October that year the Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo voted Bourne her Black History Month hero on Facebook.

Bernardine says: ‘Stephen Bourne is a hero of our history, who has published countless books, always accessible to all, on the hidden stories of our presence on these shores. Let’s honour Stephen for quietly shining a light on our history.’


Stephen has also written about gay men’s lives in Fighting Proud (2017) and Playing Gay in the Golden Age of British TV (2019) which writer Russell T Davies describes as a ‘masterpiece’. In 2020 Stephen’s acclaimed Under Fire – Black Britain in Wartime 1939-1945 was published by The History Press. Stephen contributes to many journals including The Oldie, The i Paper, Britain at War, The Historian and Attitude. His most recent television and radio appearances have included Front Row, Last Word and Four Thought (all Radio 4), BBC Radio London’s Robert Elms show and BBC1’s The One Show Black History Month special in October 2020.

The acclaimed writer Russell T Davies (Queer as Folk, It’s a Sin) describes Stephen as ‘one of the soldiers, gatekeepers and champions of our community. I am in awe of his diligence and insight.’ The acclaimed playwright and critic Bonnie Greer said: ‘Stephen brings great natural scholarship and passion to a largely hidden story. He is highly accessible, accurate and surprising. You always walk away from his work knowing something that you didn’t know, that you didn’t even expect.’


Recognition for Stephen Bourne

Recognition for Stephen Bourne

In 2022 Stephen was shortlisted for the Society for Theatre Research Book Prize for his acclaimed Deep Are the Roots: Trailblazers Who Changed Black British Theatre, published by The History Press. In May of the same year, he was honoured with the ‘Freedom of the Borough’ Civic Award by Southwark Council. The ceremony took place… READ MORE…


Black Poppies

Black Poppies

Stephen explores the extraordinary ways in which Black people helped Britain fight the Great War, on the battlefield and at home, in this new illustrated edition of Black Poppies – The Story of Britain’s Black Community in the First World War (The History Press) for children. Among those we meet are Stephen’s Aunty Esther and Walter Tull, who led soldiers in some of history’s bloodiest battles.

Read more about the book here.