Originating in North London’s Hornsey area, New Beacon Books established itself in the late 1960s as England’s first Black-owned and operated publishing house. The publisher also served as a bookstore and distributor of books from Black and Asian writers hailing from the Caribbean, the UK, Africa, and the U.S.
History of New Beacon Books
Taking its name from a defunct Trinidadian publication—The Beacon—the publishing house was established in 1966 by writer and activist John La Rose and Sarah White. In its early months, it operated from the founders’ apartment before finding a new space in Finsbury Park.
It was here that New Beacon Books became a bookstore while its main purpose was a publisher for a number of writers, La Rose included. From its founding until the early 1970s, the bookstore served as a hotspot for The Caribbean Artists Movement in London, which served to spotlight the art of Black and brown artists in England.
New Beacon Books was also a hub for the International Book Fair—also known as the Black Book Fair. With the ability to purchase books online and read them digitally, bookstores such as New Beacon found it hard to survive in the 21st century. By early 2017, the decision was made to close the bookstore but some restructuring in operation resulted in New Beacon remaining open.