George William Lamming is one of the distinguished West Indian writers who came to prominence in Great Britain during the 1950’s. He is perhaps the most political writer of his generation. Born on June 8, 1927, Lamming spent his boyhood in a small village, Carrington, a few miles from Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. At the age of ten, he witnessed riots in Bridgetown occasioned by the deportation of a Trinidadian union organizer. He attended Roebuck Street Boys’ School and won a scholarship to Combermere High School, where Frank Collymore, a teacher and editor of the influential literary magazine Bim recognized and encouraged his literary talent. His first efforts were poems, which he has continued to write occasionally. His early poems were regularly read on the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Caribbean Voices. Many of his boyhood and adolescent experiences are fictionalized evocatively in In the Castle of My Skin.
After high school, Lamming immigrated in 1946 to Trinidad, where he taught high school. Beginning to feel as confined as he had felt in Barbados, however, he immigrated to England in 1950. If in the Caribbean he was aware of the consequences of colonization, in Great Britain he discovered the problems of black immigration. He initially worked in various factories, but soon became involved in a weekly literary review program for the BBC. With his first novel, In the Castle of My Skin, which won high praise, he established himself in the literary world of London. The following year, with the publication of The Emigrants, he became a professional writer; thereafter, he traveled widely on various awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was at this point considered a most promising West Indian writer.
In 1958 he published Of Age and Innocence. He had spent several months in the...
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