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'To Sir With Love' Author Braithwaite Dies at 104

  • Ken Schwartz

E.R. Braithwaite taught at several U.S. universities and was Guyana's first permanent representative to the U.N. after the South American nation gained independence from Britain in 1966 (Photo by Carl Van Vechten / 1962)

Guyanese author, teacher and diplomat E.R. Braithwaite, whose 1959 book To Sir, With Love told the story of a black teacher struggling in a classroom in a white London slum, has died in surburban Washington at age 104.

Braithwaite moved into teaching after a career as an oil worker and serving in Britain's Royal Air Force during World War II.

He chose the profession after being denied an engineering job because he was black and found himself facing a schoolroom of antisocial, violent and occasionally racist poor whites in a London slum.

But he soon discovered that by showing the unruly students simple respect, he got the same from them and wrote about his experiences in his memoir To Sir With Love.

The book was made into a highly successful 1967 film starring Sidney Portier and British pop star Lulu.

Braithwaite also taught at several U.S. universities and was Guyana's first permanent representative to the U.N. after the South American nation gained independence from Britain in 1966.

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