To Sir, with Love by E. R. Braithwaite is an autobiographical novel published in 1959 but set just after World War II, dealing with the author's experience as a teacher in the East End of London, an area that was poor and often violent, but not as multicultural in that period as it is now.
The protagonist himself is a black man, trained as an engineer, who has just finished serving in the Royal Air Force. Originally from British Guiana, a British colony in South America, he is a well educated engineer. He discovers, however, that despite England priding itself on lack of racial prejudice compared to the United States (which was still racially segregated by law), Braithwaite finds himself the victim of discrimination as he applies for jobs. Eventually, he finds a job teaching at a secondary school.
Over the course of the book, the narrator describes how he gradually transforms his classroom from a place of mistrust and hostility to a productive and pleasant environment by both giving and insisting on being given respect. He also meets and falls in love with Gillian, a fellow teacher from a wealthy white family. The story includes descriptions of many of his students and the struggles they face due to the circumstances of their family lives and how the narrator tries to teach them that violence and anger are not productive responses to such circumstances.
Full chapter summaries can be found at the eNotes To Sir, With Love summary.