George Padmore

Other names: 

Malcolm Ivan Meredith Nurse

Date of birth: 
28 Jul 1902
City of birth: 
Arouca district
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
23 Sep 1959
Location of death: 
University College Hospital, London
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1932
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1932, 1935-57


Vauxhall Bridge Road, London

Guildford Street, London

22 Cranleigh Street, London, NW1


Malcolm Ivan Meredith Nurse, know as George Padmore, was born into an emerging black middle-class family in Trinidad in 1902. In 1924 he married Julia Semper and left for further education in the United States later that year. At first he studied at Fisk University, then moved on to New York University and later to Howard University, Washington, DC, in 1927. There he joined the Communist Party and adopted the name George Padmore.

In 1929, Padmore travelled to Moscow where he helped to organize the first International Conference of Negro Workers (1930). After Moscow, he briefly went to Vienna, Austria, where he met Rajani Palme Dutt. From 1931, he was based in Hamburg, Germany, where he edited the Negro Worker. He briefly visited London in 1932. In 1934, he asked W. E. B. Du Bois for help with organizing unity among people of African descent. After a fall-out with the Comintern, he re-located to London in 1935, where he became involved with, but never a member of, the Independent Labour Party, collaborating with Fenner Brockway and Reginald Reynolds. In 1935, he also became close friends with T. Subasinghe, who would later become ambassador of Ceylon in Russia. Padmore conducted political study classes for some colonial students, including Subasinghe. According to Subasinghe, Padmore went through a difficult time from 1935 to 1945.

In 1936, Padmore met K. D. Kumria, founder of the Swaraj House in Percy Street, at an Indian National Congress rally, and through Kumria came in contact with many members of the Indian National Congress in London. The ties between the two led to Swaraj House often becoming a venue for protest meetings of African groups. Padmore also became a close friend of Krishna Menon, who did not get along with Kumria.  At a meeting held at Swaraj House in 1944 to celebrate Nehru's 55th birthday, Padmore gave a speech in praise of Nehru's international outlook. In a letter to the editor of Socialist Leader, 28 February 1948, Padmore, Douglas Rogers of the British Centre for Colonial Freedom and Kundan Lal Jalie of Swaraj House announced that Swaraj House would henceforth be a general anti-colonial meeting place open to all groups. Apparently, Padmore held Indian national leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Subash Chandra Bose in high regard but because of his Marxist leanings he also pointed out the limitations of the leaders because of their bourgeois background.

In 1937, Padmore founded the International African Service Bureau and in late 1944, Padmore and others formed the Pan-African Federation, which was responsible for organizing the Pan-African Conference in October 1945 in Manchester. The Conference was attended by Padmore, Du Bois, Kwame Nkrumah and South Asians such as Surat Alley, N. Gangulee and T. Subasinghe. In 1946, Padmore and other well-known Pan-Africanists, such as Jomo Kenyatta and W. E. B. Du Bois, joined Krishna Menon's protest against the use of colonial troops in Indo-China and Burma.

In 1957, he published Pan-Africanism or Communism?, in which he expressed  gratitude to those who had supported his cause against racism and colonialism. Among them were Leonard Woolf and Shapurji Saklatvala, about whom he said: 'He was the one Indian who had no time for opportunistic trimmers and sycophants. The most independent-minded Communist ever. A Titoist before Tito!' (328). The same year, he moved to the newly independent Ghana where he became Kwame Nkrumah's personal adviser on African affairs. In Ghana, his health declined and in September 1959, on a medical visit to London, he died at University College Hospital in London.


Surat Alley, Fenner Brockway (Independent Labour Party), Stafford Cripps (wrote the foreword to Padmore's Africa and World Peace (1937)), Cedric Dover, W. E. B. Du Bois, Rajani Palme Dutt, C. L. R. James, I. T. A. Wallace Johnson, Jomo Kenyatta, T. Subasinghe (helped organize the Pan-African Congress, Manchester, 1945), Krishna Menon, Harold Moody (League of Coloured Peoples), Reginald Reynolds, Shapurji Saklatvala.

Involved in events: 

Pan-African Congress, Manchester, 1945

Published works: 

The Life and Struggles of Negro Toilers (London, 1931)

'Ethiopia Today', 612-8; 'Pass Laws in South Africa', 807-9; 'How Britain Governs the Blacks', 809-13; 'White Man's Justice in Africa', 813-7, in Negro: Anthology Made by Nancy Cunard, 1931-1933, ed. by Nancy Cunard (London: Nancy Cunard, 1934)

How Britain Rules Africa (London: Wishart Books, 1936)

African and World Peace (London: Secker and Warburg, 1937)

White Man's Duty (London: W. H. Allen, 1942) (with Nancy Cunard)

(ed.), International African Service Bureau Publications (London, 1945)

(ed.), The Voice of Coloured People (Manchester: Panaf Service, 1945)

How Russia Transformed Her Colonial Empire: A Challenge to the Imperialist Powers (London: Dennis Dobson, 1946)

Colonial and Coloured Unity: History of the Pan-African Congress (Manchester: Pan-African Federation, 1947)

Africa: Britain's Third Empire (London: Dennis Dobson, 1949)

The Gold Coast Revolution: The Struggle of an African People from Slavery to Freedom (London: Dennis Dobson, 1953)

Pan-Africanism or Communism?: The Coming Struggle for Africa (London: Dennis Dobson, 1956)

Secondary works: 

Adi, Hakim, and Sherwood, Marika, The 1945 Manchester Pan-African Congress Revisited (London: New Beacon Books, 1995)

Callaghan, John, Rajani Palme Dutt: A Study in British Stalinism (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1993)

Fryer, Peter, Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (London: Pluto, 1984)

Geiss, Imanuel, The Pan-African Movement (London: Methuen, 1974)

Grimshaw, Anna, The C. L. R. James Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992)

Hooker, James Ralph, Black Revolutionary: George Padmore's Path from Communism to Pan-Africanism (London: Pall Mall Press, 1967)

Howe, Stephen, 'Nurse, Malcolm Ivan Meredith [George Padmore] (1902-1959)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) []

James, C. L. R., 'George Padmore: Black Marxist Revolutionary', in C. L. R. James (ed.) At the Rendezvous of Victory: Selected Writings (London: Allison and Busby, 1984)

La Guerre, John, The Social and Political Thought of the Colonial Intelligentsia (Mona: Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of the West Indies, 1982)

Langley, Jabez Ayodele, Pan-Africanism and Nationalism in West Africa, 1900-1945: A Study in Ideology and Social Classes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973)

Lewis, Rupert, and Baptiste, Fitzroy, George Padmore: Pan-African Revolutionary (Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 2008)

Pennybacker, Susan D., From Scottsboro to Munich: Race and Political Culture in 1930s Britain (Princeton; Woodstock: Princeton University Press, 2009)

Ramdin, Ron, The Making of the Black Working Class in Britain (Aldershot: Gower, 1987)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/658, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras