Paul Robeson and the press, 1930
Out of the archives...
In 1930 Paul Robeson played Othello at the Savoy Theatre, London.
Programme for pre-West End performances.
Robeson, the son of an ex-slave, had already made an international reputation in the plays of Eugene O'Neill, as a concert and recording artist popularising Spirituals - explaining their roots in slavery even as he celebrated their beauty - and in the musical Showboat. So the British press coverage of his Othello was intense.
Much of this journalism was racist. But in the Daily and Sunday Express one of the most popular columnists of the time, Hannen Swaffer, campaigned both for Robeson's performance and against the prejudice he encountered -
He is a man of culture and a man of ideals....