Benjamin Zephaniah: Renowned Birmingham poet and Peaky Blinders actor dies aged 65

One of Birmingham's most famous poets Benjamin Zephaniah passed away on Thursday
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Benjamin Zephaniah, the Birmingham-born poet and actor, has died aged 65.

The acclaimed poet, who also starred in Peaky Blinders, died in the early hours of Thursday morning (December 7) his family confirmed in a statement posted onto the poet's social media pages. They said he was diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks before his death.

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The statement, read: “It is with great sadness and regret that we announce the death of our beloved Husband, son, and brother in the early hours of this morning (7 December). Benjamin was diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks ago.

"Benjamin’s wife was by his side throughout and was with him when he passed. We shared him with the world and we know many will be shocked and saddened by this news. Benjamin was a true pioneer and innovator, he gave the world so much."

Benjamin ZephaniahBenjamin Zephaniah
Benjamin Zephaniah

“Through an amazing career, including a huge body of poems, literature, music, television, radio, Benjamin leaves us with a joyful and fantastic legacy.”

Benjamin, who grew up in Handsworth, often addressed political injustice in his writing, and he was included in The Times list of Britain's top 50 post-war writers in 2008. Zephaniah was a child of the Windrush generation. His mum travelled over from Jamaica after seeing a poster advertising the UK as an attractive place to live. In his book ‘Windrush Child’, the author draws on experiences of children that came to the UK during that period.

A major creative figure in Birmingham, Between 2013 and 2022, Zephaniah played the role of preacher Jeremiah "Jimmy" Jesus in Peaky Blinders, and he also appeared as a panellist on the TV show QI.

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