Guyana-Born ‘To Sir With Love’ Author Dead At 104

E. R. Braithwaite-dead-at-104
E. R. Braithwaite. December 18, 1960. (Photo by Arty Pomerantz/New York Post Archives / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
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E. R. Braithwaite-dead-at-104
E. R. Braithwaite. December 18, 1960. (Photo by Arty Pomerantz/New York Post Archives / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Dec. 14, 2016: The Guyanese-born author who penned the autobiographical novel To Sir, With Love which was made into a 1967 British drama film of the same title, starring Bahamas-roots actor Sidney Poitier and Lulu, has passed away at 104-years-old.

E. R. Braithwaite, born Edward Ricardo Braithwaite, died in Rockville, Maryland Tuesday, NAN has learnt. The author, teacher and diplomat was born in then British Guiana on June 27, 1912. Braithwaite’s father was a gold and diamond miner and his mother was a homemaker.

He attended Queen’s College high school in pre-independent Guyana, and then the City College of New York in 1940. During World War II, he joined the Royal Air Force as a pilot and went on to attend the University of Cambridge (1949), earning a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in physics.

After the war, despite his extensive training, Braithwaite could not find work in his field and, disillusioned, reluctantly took up a job as a schoolteacher in the East End of London. ‘To Sir, With Love,’ (1959) was based on his experiences there. It won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was made into the famous 1967 film.

Braithwaite then turned to social work and to finding foster homes for non-white children for the London County Council. His experiences resulted in his second novel, ‘Paid Servant,’ (1962). The book was dramatised on Radio 4 the following year, again with Kwei-Armah in the lead role.

He then released the novel ‘Choice of Straws’ in 1965 which was dramatized in Radio 4’s ‘The Saturday Play’ slot in September 2009.

Braithwaite  was also an educational consultant and lecturer for UNESCO, permanent representative to the United Nations for Guyana, Guyana’s ambassador to Venezuela, taught English studies at New York University; in 2002 and was writer-in-residence at Howard University, Washington, D.C.