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Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker arriving at Croydon Airport in 1928.
 Photograph Croydon Airport Society archives
Our first post revealed a photograph of Josephine Baker with Captain Rogers. We know, however, that Captain Gordon P. Olley actually picked Baker up from Paris in 1928. In his autobiography A Million Miles in the Air. “Adventure is still with us” (1934), Olley recalls going to her flat in Paris and persuading Baker to accompany him to London in a plane especially chartered for the occasion. She was reluctant as she had sprained her ankle.

However, Josephine Baker agreed to go with Olley to London for the charity gala and Olley said as I flew her back to Croydon:

Miss Baker .. . made light of her sprained ankle – although I could see it was really paining her a great deal. 

Baker made it to the West End from the airport in good time and sang and danced on stage, where she got a rapturous reception due, in part according to Olley, to the audience knowing about her ‘air dash and injured ankle.  

If you would like to know more, join historian Dr Gemma Romain at Croydon Clocktower on Thursday 8 October to find out why performer, singer and actor Josephine Baker made a flying visit to Croydon Airport in 1928. Croydon Airport was at the heart of the cultural world of 1920s & 30s London. The talk will explore the often unacknowledged integral part that Black artists, musicians and activists played in creating this vibrant cultural world.

Gemma Romain is a historian and researcher based at The Equiano Centre, University College London. Her work explores Caribbean and Black British history, with a particular focus on Black LGBTQ histories. Her biography of Patrick Nelson, a black gay artist model and student in interwar London will be published by Bloomsbury Academic. She is also co-curator of Spaces of Black British Modernism, which is on display at Tate Britain until 4 October 2015.

Thursday 8 October 6-7pm. Free Booking essential via eventbrite.

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