George Lamming Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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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(Novels for Students)

Along with the novelist V. S. Naipaul and the poet Derek Walcott, the Barbadian novelist George Lamming is one of the most important figures...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Birney, Earle. “Meeting George Lamming in Jamaica.” Canadian Literature 95 (Winter, 1982): 16-28. Poet Birney reminisces about his initial contacts with Lamming’s novels, then describes his unplanned meeting with Lamming. Focuses on Lamming’s political involvement with the Caribbean and how it is demonstrated in his novels. Also includes the author’s and Lamming’s views of other well-known Caribbean figures.

Dance, Daryl Cumber. Conversations with Contemporary West Indian Writers. Leeds, England: Peepal Tree Press, 1993. A collection of interviews with West Indian writers, including Lamming. Other subjects include the Caribbean literary patriarch C. L. R. James, the Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott, and the prominent female novelist Jamaica Kincaid.

Jonas, Joyce. Anancy in the Great House: Ways of Reading West Indian Fiction. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1990. Examines the related problems of language and perception as thematic motifs in the works of Lamming and Wilson Harris.

Joseph, Margaret Paul. Caliban in Exile: The Outsider in Caribbean Fiction. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1992. Explores Lamming’s novels as parallel to the social and political evolution of Caliban, Lamming’s own image of the West Indian.

Lamming, George. “C. L. R. James,...

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