Festival of Ideas: ‘Brown Babies: the stories of children born to black GIs and white women in the Second World War’

21st Oct 2019, 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Business School

Outside Holnicote House children’s home, Somerset, England

Outside Holnicote House children’s home, Somerset, England. © Lesley York

As part of this year’s Festival of Ideas, ISR is delighted to be welcoming author Lucy Bland.

Lucy introduces her book which recounts a little-known history of the estimated 2,000 babies born to black GIs and white British women in the second world war.

The African-American press named these children ‘brown babies’; the British called them ‘half-castes’. Black GIs, in this segregated army, were forbidden to marry their white girl-friends. Nearly half of the children were given up to children’s homes but few were adopted, thought ‘too hard to place’.

There has been minimal study of these children and the difficulties they faced, such as racism in a (then) very white Britain, lack of family or a clear identity. Her book presents the stories of over fifty of these children, their stories contextualised in terms of government policy and attitudes of the time.

Lucy Bland is Professor of Social and Cultural History at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.

This is a FREE event, open to the public (registration is essential).


  • 12.00pm-  Arrival and refreshments
  • 12.30pm – Event start
  • 1.30pm – Event end

This event is part of Edge Hill University’s annual Festival of Ideas.   Programmed by the University’s three Research Institutes, ISR, ICE and HRI, this year the festival will explore the theme of Exchanges: Creativity, Community, Curiosity.

The exchange of ideas is the fuel of the knowledge and creative economy. Locally, nationally and internationally we are all involved in sharing concepts, swapping insights, and trading opinions. This year’s festival explores communication, reciprocity, and transactions in all areas, from policy making to healthcare, social enterprise to cultural production. Be the exchange you want to see


More information about the festival and the full programme of events is available here