The British Empire Library

Out of England: A working life at the end of Empire

by Timothy Bull

Timothy Bull’s concise memoir of his father encompasses the final phase of the colonial era.

John Bull travelled to South Africa in 1947, the year India gained independence from Britain. As a young working-class ex-serviceman he joined thousands of others who believed that British-ruled Africa was the place to build a new life. Compared with his native Britain, war-weary and austere, the colonial territories offered hope and opportunity. Few imagined that the empire would be all but finished within the next two decades.

The memoir takes us from John’s childhood in England in the twenties and thirties, through his wartime service in the Royal Marines, and on to Africa where he lived, worked and raised a family in South Africa, South West Africa (Namibia), Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). The story includes a portrayal of life in Zambia before and after independence. From time to time it returns to England, where dramatic social and economic change has a lasting impact on John’s latter years.

Within this deeply personal memoir the author has attempted to offer a balanced view of the history of Central Africa at the end of the colonial era. But he does not shy away from opinions and speculations which some may find controversial.

British Empire Book
Timothy Bull
First Published


Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames

by Stephen Luscombe