Earl Lovelace Biography

Biography

Soon after his birth, Earl Lovelace moved with his mother to the island of Tobago, where they lived with his mother’s parents. Lovelace credits his grandmother, Eva Whatley, of African and American Indian ancestry, and his mother, Jean Whatley Lovelace, as major influences during his youth. Although Lovelace attended Scarborough Methodist Primary School in Tobago before moving to Port of Spain, Trinidad, for his high school years, 1948 to 1953, he considers himself largely self-educated. Beginning in early childhood, Lovelace read American and English literature voraciously, especially admiring William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway.

From 1953 to 1954 Lovelace worked as a proofreader for a Trinidad newspaper. In 1956 he became a forest ranger for the Department of Forestry, remaining in the Trinidad civil service as an agricultural assistant in the Department of Agriculture until 1966. During the 1961-1962 school year Lovelace attended the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Agriculture and Forestry. His work experiences deepened Lovelace’s understanding of the land and people of Trinidad, informing the widely praised descriptive passages and the vernacular language of his books and plays.

Lovelace’s first novel, While Gods Are Falling (1965) tells the story of Walter Castle, who migrated from his rural birthplace to the slums of Trinidad’s capital city, Port of Spain. Castle’s memories of his home village’s supportive community contrast with the problems of poor families struggling against the destructive life of urban...

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Biography

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Earl Wilbert Lovelace was born on July 13, 1935, in Toco, Trinidad. After receiving a basic education at a number of schools in the capital city of Port-of-Spain, he graduated from Ideal High School with his Cambridge School certificate in 1953. In 1962, he attained a diploma with specialized agricultural training from the Eastern Caribbean Farm Institute in Centeno, Trinidad. At the age of eighteen, he was appointed a forest ranger in the Department of Forestry. After six years as a ranger, he transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture in 1959, where he remained an agricultural assistant from 1959 to 1966.

Encouraged in part by the favorable reception and the British Petroleum Independence Literary Award that attended publication of his first novel, While Gods Are Falling, Lovelace resigned from the civil service to undertake studies that would be more closely related to his writing. He spent the 1966-1967 academic year at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and then returned to Port-of-Spain as a journalist for the Trinidad and Tobago Express newspaper. Beginning in the early 1970’s, he served as a teacher and lecturer in a number of schools while pursuing his writing career. He taught at Federal City College, Washington, D.C., from 1971 to 1973, at Johns Hopkins University from 1973 to 1974, and at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, from 1977 to 1987. He makes his home in Trinidad, where he continues to write.

Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The work of Earl Wilbert Lovelace, arguably the best-known Trinidadian novelist after V. S. Naipaul, insistently probes the lives of his fictional Trinidadians for their human response to historical, economic, and social conditions that circumscribe them. The settings for his works are both small Trinidadian villages and the capital city, Port-of-Spain, as indeed his own life has been divided between village and city.

Lovelace was born in the village of Toco. After receiving a basic education in a number of schools in Port-of-Spain, he graduated from Ideal High School with a Cambridge School certificate in 1953. His specialized education and training was in forestry and agriculture in Centeno, Trinidad; he obtained a diploma in 1962. After serving as a forest ranger for six years, he transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, where he remained an agricultural assistant from 1959 to 1966. Encouraged in part by the British Petroleum Independence Literary Award for his first novel, While Gods Are Falling, he resigned from the civil service and pursued studies more closely related to his writing at Howard University in Washington, D.C., from 1966 to 1967, then returned to Port-of-Spain as a journalist for the Express newspaper.

Lovelace has received numerous honors as a writer and teacher. His skills in both capacities led to positions teaching writing at the University of the District of Columbia, The John Hopkins University, the University of the West Indies, and Hartwick College. In 1980, he was named a Guggenheim Fellow. In addition to his literary contributions to Trinidadian village life, he was a member of the village councils in Valencia, Rio Claro, and Matura, and he has worked with various youth and drama groups.

Lovelace published his first three short stories in the Trinidad Guardian in 1965, the year While Gods Are Falling was published. The Schoolmaster appeared in 1968, and in the eleven years between that and the publication of his third novel, The Dragon Can’t Dance, he wrote The Wine of Astonishment as well as several plays and musical dramas, most notably Jestina’s Calypso, which was first produced in 1976. His short stories were collected in A Brief Conversion in 1988. His novel Salt, which appeared...

(The entire section is 957 words.)