Alex Wheatle

Alphonso Wheatle is an award-winning black British novelist of Jamaican heritage. Wheatle gained widespread recognition with his debut novel, Brixton Rock (1999), which received critical acclaim.

Wheatle spent much of his childhood in a Surrey children's home. At sixteen, he was a founder member of the Crucial Rocker sound system, and his DJ name was Yardman Irie. He wrote lyrics about his observations of everyday Brixton life.

By 1980, Wheatle was residing in a social services hostel in Brixton, South London. He witnessed and lived through the 1981 Brixton riots, its precursors, and its aftermath. Wheatle was briefly incarcerated following the Brixton riots. He has since been called upon to talk about the Brixton riots, most prominently in the 2006 BBC program "Battle for Brixton". He has also narrated an audio guide to the streets of Brixton for sound.

His writing style was influenced by a diverse range of authors, including CLR James, James Baldwin, Chester Himes, Richard Wright, Maya Angelou, Charles Dickens, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Iceberg Slim, Linton Kwesi Johnson, John Steinbeck, Raymond Chandler, Vanessa Walters, Courttia Newland, Yvvette Edwards, Nadifa Mohammad, and Irenosen Okojie.

Alex Wheatle was awarded the London Arts Board New Writers Award for East of Acre Lane (2001).

In 2008, Wheatle was awarded the MBE for services to literature in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

He is a member of the English PEN. Wheatle's debut novel, Brixton Rock, was adapted for the stage and performed at the Young Vic in July 2010.

He wrote and performed Uprising, a one-man play based on his life at Tara Arts Studios, Wandsworth, London.

In 2016, for Crongton Knights, which was also the recipient of the Renaissance Quiz Writers' Choice Award in 2017. His work, Cane Warriors, earned him the Young Quills Award in 2021 and a shortlist for the Yoto Carnegie Greenaway Awards in 2022.

Alex Wheatle lives in London.

Photo credit:
years of life: 3 January 1963 present


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