Mike Phillips (writer)

Michael Angus Phillips, OBE FRSL (born 8 August 1941),[1] known as Mike Phillips, is a British writer and broadcast journalist of Guyanese descent.

Early yearsEdit

Mike Phillips was born in Georgetown, a port city in the equatorial colony British Guiana. In 1956 with his family he migrated to Islington in London, England, when he was aged about 14.[1] He was educated at the University of London (English), the University of Essex (Politics), and received a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from Goldsmiths College, London.


Phillips worked for the BBC as a journalist and broadcaster between 1972 and 1983, then became a lecturer in media studies at the University of Westminster.[2] In 1992 he became a full-time writer.[2] He has said, "One of the experiences that made me a writer was the realisation that I was written out of a small piece of literary history in the film Prick Up Your Ears, the biography of controversial playwright Joe Orton, author of Entertaining Mr Sloane. Orton and his friend Kenneth Halliwell were frequent visitors to Essex Road Library where I worked as a library assistant. I regularly spoke to them and didn't know that they were defacing the books, an act that eventually put them in jail. When the scene was depicted on film I felt I should have been included, and realised that you can't rely on others to write your story, sometimes you have to do it yourself."[3]

Phillips is best known for his crime fiction, including four novels featuring black journalist Sam Dean:[4] Blood Rights (1989; serialised on BBC TV starring Brian Bovell), The Late Candidate (1990), Point of Darkness (1994), An Image to Die For (1995). He is also the author of London Crossings: A Biography of Black Britain (2001), a series of interlinked autobiographical essays and stories.[5] He has said that he thinks of himself as both an English writer and a black British writer.[6] With his brother, the political journalist Trevor Phillips, he wrote Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multi-Racial Britain (1998) to accompany a BBC television series.[7]

He writes for The Guardian newspaper,[8] and was formerly cross-cultural curator at the Tate and a trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund.[9]

Awards and honoursEdit



  • Smell of the Coast and Other Stories (1987). London: Akira Press.
  • Boyz 'n the Hood (1991). London: Pan.
  • The Dancing Face (1997). London and New York: HarperCollins.
  • A Shadow of Myself (2000). New York: HarperCollins.
  • Kind of Union (2005). London: Continuum.

Sam Dean seriesEdit

  • Blood Rights (1989). London: Michael Joseph; New York: St. Martin's Press. (Adapted for BBC TV in 1989; starring Brian Bovell)
  • The Late Candidate (1990). London: Michael Joseph; New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • Point of Darkness: A Sam Dean Mystery (1994). London: Michael Joseph, 1994; New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • An Image to Die For (1997). New York: St. Martin's Press.


  • Community Work and Racism (1982). London: Routledge.
  • Notting Hill in the Sixties (1991); text, with photography by Charlie Phillips. London: Lawrence & Wishart.
  • Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multi-Racial Britain (with Trevor Phillips). London: HarperCollins, 1998. ISBN 0-00-255909-9.
  • London Crossings: A Biography of Black Britain. London: Continuum, 2001.


  1. ^ a b "Phillips, Mike, 1941–". Library of Congress Authorities (lccn.loc.gov). Retrieved 10 May 2015. LC cites the British Library (BL) and its own Cataloging in Publication (CIP) data, both 2001.
  2. ^ a b "Distinguished friends: Dr Mike Phillips OBE FRSL FRSA", Migration Museum Project.
  3. ^ Kevin Duffy, "An Interview with award-winning author, Mike Phillips", Birmingham City Council.
  4. ^ Bruce King, Mike Phillips Biography.
  5. ^ Stephen Barfield, "Before London Called: Review of Mike Phillips, London Crossings: a Biography of Black Britain", Literary London: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Representation of London, Vol. 3, No. 1 (March 2005). Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  6. ^ Mike Phillips, "Migration, Modernity and English Writing: Reflections on Migrant Identity and Canon Formation", Tate Encounters [Ed]ition 1, October 2007.
  7. ^ a b c Mike Phillips at British Council: Literature.
  8. ^ Mike Phillips profile, The Guardian.
  9. ^ Tate Research. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  10. ^ "MBE for 80-year-old shoe shiner", BBC News, 30 December 2006.

External linksEdit