An atlas of love, loss and belonging
by Alexis Keir
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Pub Date 02 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 29 Jan 2024
'It took two decades for me to go in search of the parts of myself I had left behind in the Caribbean. What ghosts were waiting for me there? There was a thick, black journal in my flat, stuffed with letters, postcards, handwritten notes, and diary entries. For the first time in years, I opened it.'
Twenty years after living there as a child, Alexis Keir returns to the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent. He is keen to uncover lost memories and rediscover old connections. But he also carries with him the childhood scars of being separated from his parents and put into uncaring hands.
Inspired by the embrace of his relatives in the Caribbean, Alexis begins to unravel the stories of others who left Saint Vincent, searching through diary pages and newspaper articles, shipping and hospital records, and faded photographs. He uncovers tales of exploitation, endeavour and bravery of those who had to find a home far away from where they were born. A child born with vitiligo, torn from his mother's arms to be exhibited as a showground attraction in England; a woman who, in the century before the Windrush generation, became one of the earliest Black nurses to be recorded as working in a London hospital; the young boy who became a footman in a Yorkshire stately home. And Alexis's mother, a student nurse who arrives in 1960s London, ready to start a new life in a cold, grey country - and the man from her island who she falls in love with.
From the Caribbean to England, North America and New Zealand, from windswept islands to the wet streets of London, and spanning generations of travellers from the 19th century to the present, Windward Family takes you inside the beating heart of a Black British family, separated by thousands of miles but united by love, loss and belonging.