Alex Wheatle

Born in London to Jamaican parents on the January 3rd, 1963, Alex spent most of his childhood in the care of social services. A huge fan of reggae, in his teens Alex was a founder member of the Crucial Rocker sound system where he wrote lyrics for performances in community halls, youth clubs and blues dances in South London. His first novel, Brixton Rock, was published to critical acclaim by Black Amber Books in 1999, and he won the London Arts Board Writers Prize in 2000. His first young-adult novel, Liccle Bit (Little, Brown, 2015) was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2015. Alex wrote and performed his own one man show, Uprising in 2011: produced by Tara Arts, Alex toured the UK with the show in 2011 and 2012.  Shame & Scandal, Alex’s debut play, played to sold out audiences at the Albany Theatre, Deptford in October 2015.  

Crongton Knights, the follow-up novel to Liccle Bit (Little, Brown 2016)won the Guardian’s Children’s Fiction Award 2016, as well the Renaissance Quiz Writers’ Choice Award, and was shortlisted for the 2017 Bookseller Young Adult prize. Crongton Knights was adapted by Emteaz Hussein into a stage play for Pilot Theatre and toured the UK January/February 2020. 

Steve McQueen’s 2020 BBC anthology series Small Axe dramatized Alex’s childhood growing up in a mostly white institutional care home, and depicted his imprisonment after the Brixton uprising of 1981. 

In 2022, Alex was presented with a doctorate for his services to literature by the University of Sussex. 


East of Acre Lane (Fourth Estate, 2001); The Seven Sisters/Home Boys (Fourth Estate, 2003); Island Songs (Allison & Busby, 2005); Checkers, co-written with Mark Parham (X-Press, 2006); The Dirty South (Serpents Tail, 2008); Brenton Brown (Arcadia, 2011); Straight Outta Crongton (Little, Brown, 2017); Kerb Stain Boys: a Crongton novella (Little, Brown 2018); Home Girl (Little, Brown, 2019); Cane Warriors (Anderson Press, 2020); Kemosha of the Caribbean (Anderson Press, 2022);  Witness (Serpent’s Tail, 2022). 


  • The Margins Book Awards – Top Ten Awards list, 2024
  • Shortlisted for the Yoto Carnegie Greenaway Awards for Cane Warriors, 2022
  • Winner of The Young Quills Awards for Cane Warriors, 2021
  • Shortlisted for the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature, 2020
  • Winner of the Renaissance Quiz Writers’ Choice Award for Crongton Knights, 2017 
    Winner of the Guardian’s Children’s Fiction Award for Crongton Knights, 2016
  • MBE for services to literature, 2008
  • London Arts Board New Writers Award for Brixton Rock, 1999

Kerry-Ann Bentley