25 Very British Things Invented by Immigrants

Zoe Samuel

Image: Roy JAMES Shakespeare/Photodisc/Getty Images

About This Article

While it is often portrayed in popular culture as being a fairly homogenous place, since long before Roman times, Britain has actually been quite a melting pot. People fleeing persecution, war or lack of opportunity all over the world have fled there, and the island nation has welcomed a mix of cultures and ideas for centuries.

Still, sometimes immigrants are so successful at assimilating into and contributing to Britain that it ceases to be obvious which ideas hail from the newcomers and which are old school British. After all, very few people can say whether they are primarily Anglo-Saxon or Norman. The Romans left few records, and recent DNA testing of ancient bones at Stonehenge shows that our country's entire population was replaced since its construction. The confusion is best encapsulated in the sitcom "Blackadder" when Captain Darling asserts, "I'm as British as Queen Victoria!" to which Blackadder responds, "So your father's German, you're half-German, and you married a German?"

The strength of a melting pot is that it welcomes talent and ideas no matter what the packaging. Britain has benefited from immigrant writers like the great poet T. S. Eliot, or the novelists Kazuo Ishiguro ("Remains of the Day") and Jung Chang, whose "Wild Swans" is banned in her homeland of China.

This means if you go back just a few years, it's easy to suppose that great British institutions, companies or inventions MUST have been created by great Britons — and it's true, but only if you count the folks who are British by choice, alongside those who are British by birth. Scroll down to learn about some of the greatest British achievements from newly-minted members of our British family!

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