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(09/12/2010) Frangipani House by Beryl Gilroy. London. 1986. Heinemann. Prize winner in the GLC Black Literature Competition. keywords: Literature Caribbean Women Black Guyana. CWS37. 111 pages. Cover illustration by Ramo Avella. Cover design by Keith Pointing. 0435988522.


   FRANGIPANI HOUSE, Beryl Gilroy’s first novel, won a prize in the GLC Black Literature Competition even before it was published. Set in Guyana, it is the story of Mama King, trapped by age and infirmity, but ultimately indomitable. She becomes too much for her family who send her away to Frangipani House, a dreary claustrophobic rest home - but Mama King does not give in. She makes her mark—first-through anguish, then near madness, and finally by escape to the dangerous, dirty, vital world of the poor. FRANGIPANI HOUSE is a beautifully written protest at institutions that isolate, and a way of life that denies respect and responsibility for the weak.

Beryl Gilroy was born in Guyana, and came to England in 1951, at the start of a decade which saw 150,000 people leave the Caribbean for the UK. Although already an experienced teacher, she was forced to take jobs as a factory clerk and maid before being able to resume her career in education. She became headmistress of a North London Primary School and is now attached to the Institute of Education, University of London.




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