Aunt Esther’s Story

ECOHP, 1991 The first edition is now out of print

Stephen Bourne’s first book Aunt Esther’s Story was co-authored with his Aunt Esther and published in 1991. She was the mixed-race daughter of Joseph Bruce, a Guyanese labourer, and his English wife who died when Esther was very young. As a single father, Joseph raised Esther in the tight-knit working-class community of Fulham, London. After leaving school, Esther worked as a seamstress. When Joseph was killed during the London Blitz, Esther was adopted into Stephen’s family by his great-grandmother, Hannah Johnson. She was the big-hearted ‘mother’ figure of the community in which Esther had been raised.

In 1991 Stephen was commissioned by Hammersmith and Fulham’s Ethnic Communities Oral History Project to compile Aunt Esther’s Story from a series of interviews he had undertaken with his aunt. It was quickly recognised as one of the first books to document the life of a mixed-race working-class woman in Britain.

Aunt Esther’s Story was shortlisted for the Arts Council’s Raymond Williams Prize for Community Publishing.

ESTHER BRUCE – A BLACK LONDON SEAMSTRESS: HER STORY 1912-1994

History and Social Action Publications, 2012

This edition is a revised and updated version of the 1991 book and includes several photographs not seen in the first edition.

Copies of the book are available by sending a £4 cheque (made payable to Sean Creighton) to 6 Oakhill Road, London SW16 5RG. For further information email Sean Creighton sean.creighton1947@btinternet.com

‘You’ll find the reading of this book a very moving experience. It makes a genuine contribution to the history of unsung heroes of this country’ Family Tree Magazine

‘A personal yet archetypal chapter in the history of working-class London, one which is usually overlooked in the grand catalogue of great men. It should inspire young people to explore the thoughts and observations of an older generation of family and friends, thus discovering shared experiences throughout our multi-racial, culturally diverse metropolis’ – City Limits

‘Poignantly and simply told…The book is a captivating documentation of a life rich in experiences’ – The Voice

‘Inspirational and enlightening…Anecdotal in style and engaging from cover to cover, Bourne’s mini-biography format is a template that other African-Caribbean historians would do well to follow. Focussing on everyday realism, rather than needless sensationalism, Stephen gets to the heart of the matter: black people are and have been an integral part of British history for centuries’ – Caribbean Times