In 1973 Ali, as Hansib Publications (founded in 1970 and named after his parents), published Westindians in Great Britain, a book which he had edited. In 1997 Ali sold his newspapers in order to concentrate on book publishing. Hansib now has about 125 publications!
Three-quarters of a century old and with 40 years of publishing behind him, Arif Ali is an extraordinary man. He was born in Guyana in 1935. Two of his grandparents were Indian indentured labourers. In 1957 he came to England to study, but ended up educating himself.
By the 1990s he was publishing 3 weekly papers and 2 monthly magazines, employing a total of 140 staff. The circulation of the weekly Caribbean Times peaked at 28,000, averaging around 10,000. In all this publications, Arif was reaching a readership of about half a million people. He also published books and Hansib is still the biggest and most diverse black book publisher in Britain.
The book traces the tradition of Caribbean publishing in Britain, starting in the nineteenth century with the revolutionary Jamaican Robert Wedderburn, Celestine Edwards from Dominica who published Lux and Fraternity and the Trinidadian barrister Henry Sylverster Williams.
From the first half of the twentieth century, it records the work of the two Jamaicans Harold Moody (The Keys) and Marcus Garvey (Black Man), and also Ras T Makonnen from Guyana. After the Second World War, two key publisher were Claudia Jones from Trinidad with the West Indian Gazette and Edward Scobie from Dominica who produced Tropic and Flamingo.
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