Pearl Prescod

Pearl Priscilla Prescod (28 May 1920 – 25 June 1966)[1][2][3] was a Tobagonian actress and singer. She was one of the earliest Caribbean entertainers to appear on British television and was the first Black woman to appear at London's National Theatre.[4]

Pearl Prescod
Pearl Priscilla Prescod

Died25 June 1966 (aged 45/46)
Kensington, London, England
Years active1954–1966
ChildrenColin Prescod

Prescod arrived in Britain in the early 1950s and resided in Notting Hill, London.[5] During her time in Britain, she was cast in numerous television roles and theatre productions, and was active in the anti-racism struggle in London in the late 1950s and early '60s.[6] With her close friend, journalist and activist Claudia Jones, Prescod helped co-ordinate London's first "Caribbean Carnival" event,[7] which took place in St Pancras Town Hall in January 1959,[8] and is considered a precursor of the Notting Hill Carnival.[9]


Pearl Prescod was a trained classical singer[10] and had aspirations to pursue a classical music education in England.[11] She arrived in Britain in the early 1950s after winning a musical scholarship to Guildhall School of Music.[1]

In 1954, Prescod was cast in Barry Reckord's first play Flesh to a Tiger (previously called Della).[12][13] The play also starred Cleo Laine, Nadia Cattouse and Lloyd Reckord.

In 1955, the secretary of the West India Committee in London helped Prescod secure a job as a switchboard operator in his office and an audition at the BBC. She successfully procured a number of BBC contracts and landed many television roles and plays over the years.[11]

Prescod was part of a West Indian singing group called The New World Singers and was the leader of the sopranos in the choir. The others were Patricia Williams (St Vincent), Bonica Fletcher (Jamaica) and Joyce Jacobs (British Guiana).[14] Impressed with hearing a group of West Indian singers, conductor and composer Avril Coleridge-Taylor formed the choir.[14]

In 1959 Sylvia Wynter's play Under The Sun was re-broadcast by the BBC. Prescod had a part in the play, along with Nadia Cattouse, Andrew Salkey, Sheila Clarke, Gordon Woolford and Sylvia Wynter.[15]

During her stage career, Prescod was a member of the National Theatre Company[16][4] and was cast as Tituba in the 1965 production of The Crucible.[17] She received wide praise for her performance.


Prescod's contributions to the struggle for racial equality in Britain was recognised.[18] She played an active role alongside Claudia Jones,[19] and was involved in organising the March on Washington solidarity demonstration in London on 31 August 1963. Prescod was among the Black artistes in England who supported Claudia Jones's appeals for funds for the West Indian Gazette by organising and performing at fundraising concerts.[20] When Jones died in 1964, Prescod sung "Lift Up Your Voice and Sing" at the funeral.


Prescod died on 25 June 1966[1] in Kensington, London, and is survived by her son Colin Prescod,[19][21] sociologist and trustee of the Friends of the Huntley Archives at LMA.[22]


Prescod is the subject of a chapter written by Obi B. Egbuna, the Nigerian-born novelist, playwright and political activist, in his non-fiction work titled Black Candle at Christmas.[23]


Year Title Role Notes
1956 A Man from the Sun Cast member TV Movie
1957 The Buccaneers Nanny Macao TV Series
1958 Storm Over Jamaica Mrs. Morgan
1958 Television Playwright Maisie
1958 BBC Sunday-Night Theatre

The Green Pastures

Ward Nurse TV Series
1959 ITV Television Playhouse Mrs. Jackson TV Series
1960 Saturday Playhouse Sarah TV Series
1960 No Kidding Coloured mother
1960 Eugene O'Neill: Three Plays of the Sea

The Moon of the Caribbees, Bound East for Cardiff & In the Zone

Bella TV Movie
1960 Danger Man

Colonel Rodriguez

Native Woman


TV Series
1960 Beware of Children Black Mother
1961 Deadline Native woman
1961 Flame in the Streets uncredited
1961 Hurricane Marie Robinson TV Series
1962 Dark Pilgrimage Three street-walkers TV Movie
1962 BBC Sunday-Night Play Esther TV Series
1962 The Saint

The Arrow of God

Hotel Maid TV Series
1963 Jezebel ex UK Miss Philpott TV Series
1963 Harold Was Alright Nurse
1963 Your World Mrs. Williams TV Series
1963 Friday Night Nurse TV Series
1964 Armchair Theatre

Sharp at Four

Cleaner TV Series
1965 Secret Agent Millie

Madame Celeste

TV Series
1965 Barney Is My Darling TV Series
1965 Parallel Lines Sometimes Meet Madame Celeste
1965 The Crucible Tituba
1966 Naked Evil Landlady uncredited
1967 The Deadly Affair Play Spectator uncredited

Further readingEdit

  • Bidnall, Amanda, The West Indian Generation. Remaking British Culture in London, 1945–1965 (Migrations and Identities), 2017
  • Egbuna, Obi B., Black Candle for Christmas, 1980

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Kingston Gleaner Newspaper Archives, June 29, 1966, p. 11". 29 June 1966. p. 11. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  2. ^ Britain), Commonwealth Institute (Great (1966). Annual Report. The Institute.
  3. ^ Chronicle. 1966.
  4. ^ a b "Kingston Gleaner Newspaper Archives | Feb 04, 1966, p. 6". Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  5. ^ Prescod, Colin (6 June 2019). "The 'rebel' history of the Grove". Institute of Race Relations. Retrieved 2020-06-22.
  6. ^ Kelley, Robin D. G.; Stephen Tuck, eds. (2015). The Other Special Relationship: Race, Rights, and Riots in Britain and the United States. United States: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1137500373.
  7. ^ Bourne, Stephen (2001). Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television. Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. ISBN 0826455395.
  8. ^ Bruley, Sue (1999). Women in Britain since 1900. Macmillan International Higher Education. p. 144. ISBN 978-1-349-27743-8.
  9. ^ Funk, Ray (November–December 2009). "Notting Hill Carnival: Mas and the mother country". Caribbean Beat (100). Retrieved 2020-06-25.
  10. ^ "Subscribe to read | Financial Times". Retrieved 2020-06-23. Cite uses generic title (help)
  11. ^ a b Bidnall, Amanda (2017). The West Indian Generation: Remaking British Culture in London, 1945–1965. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. ISBN 9781786940032.
  12. ^ Busby, Margaret (2012-01-16). "Barry Reckord obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-06-22.
  13. ^ "Photograph of Flesh to a Tiger by Barry Reckord (1958 premiere)". The British Library. Retrieved 2020-06-25.
  14. ^ a b "Kingston Gleaner Newspaper Archives | June 23, 1956, p. 10". Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  15. ^ "Kingston Gleaner Newspaper Archives | Jul 04, 1959, p. 18". Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  16. ^ Jones, Glyn (2008). No Official Umbrella. Greece: DCG Publications. p. 104. ISBN 978-9609841801.
  17. ^ "The National Theatre at 50 – in pictures". The Guardian. 2013-10-19. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-06-22.
  18. ^ "Kingston Gleaner Newspaper Archives | Jul 26, 1966, p. 3". Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  19. ^ a b Olden, Mark (2008-08-29). "White riot: The week Notting Hill exploded". The Independent. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  20. ^ Johnson, Buzz (1985). I Think of My Mother. Notes on the Life and Times of Claudia Jones. London: Karia Press. ISBN 9780946918027.
  21. ^ "How a Trinidadian Communist Invented London's Biggest Party".
  22. ^ "About Us". FHALMA - Friends of the Huntley Archives at LMA. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  23. ^ Egbuna, Obi B. (1980). Black Candle for Christmas. Fourth Dimension. ISBN 978-978-156-109-2.
  24. ^ "Pearl Prescod". IMDb. Retrieved 2020-06-22.
  25. ^ "Pearl Prescod". BFI. Retrieved 2020-06-22.