Andrew Salkey (30 January 1928 - 28 April 1995) was a novelist, poet, freelance writer and journalist of Jamaican and Haitian origin. Salkey was born in Panama but was raised in Jamaica, moving to Britain to pursue university education. A prolific writer and editor, he was the author of more than 30 books in the course of his career, including novels for adults and for children, poetry collections, anthologies, travelogues and essays. He died in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he had been teaching since the 1970s, holding a lifetime position as Writer-In-Residence at Hampshire College.
He was born as Felix Andrew Alexander Salkey in Colón, Panama, to Jamaican parents, Andrew Alexander Salkey, a businessman, and Linda Marshall Salkey, but when he was two years old was was sent to Jamaica, where he was raised by his grandmother and his mother, who worked there as a teacher, while his father continued to work in Panama.
Salkey was educated at St George’s College, in Kingston, and at Munro College, in St. Elizabeth, before going to England in the early 1950s to attend the University of London. According to Stuart Hall, Salkey "quickly took his place at the centre of a small but outstanding circle of Caribbean writers and intellectuals. For a critical period he was the key figure, the main presenter and writer-in-residence in the Caribbean section of the BBC World Service at Bush House, London, and his programmes became a glittering showcase for a generation of writers, including Sam Selvon and George Lamming, who had made London their second home. Established and aspiring authors were chivvied, cajoled, gently chastised, inspired and schooled to produce new work for radio on the Caribbean Voices programme over which Andrew Salkey often presided." After reading V. S. Naipaul's his first story Salkey encouraged him to continue writing.
Salkey was a part of the West Indian Students Union (WISU), which provided an effective forum for Caribbean students to express their ideas and provided voluntary support to the "harassed" working-class Caribbean immigrant community, during the 1960s, '70s and '80s. The association also included Gerry Burton, Arif Ali, Chris LeMaitre, John La Rose and Horace Lashley.
In the mid-1950s Salkey taught English at Walworth Secondary School (also known as Mina Road school), an early comprehensive just off the Old Kent Road in South-east London. His first novel, A Quality of Violence, was published in 1959, and his second, Escape to An Autumn Pavement, in 1960. That same year Salkey edited one of the first anthologies of Caribbean short stories, West Indian Stories, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in the field of folklore and popular culture. His novels that followed were The Late Emancipation of Jerry Stover (1968), The Adventures of Catullus Kelly (1969) and Come Home, Malcolm Heartland (1976). He was a prolific writer and subsequently published several books for children, poetry, travelogues, books that drew on folk traditions, including Anancy's Score (1973), as well as editing anthologies including Breaklight (1971).
Salkey was good friends with Austin Clarke, and the two had a long written correspondence, a great deal of which is available in Clarke's files at the McMaster University Archives in Hamilton, Ontario.
I was headed nowhere like a hundred million others: I had escaped a malformed Jamaican middle class; I had attained my autumn pavement; I had done more than my fair share of hurting, rejecting, and condemning; and I had created another kind of failure, and this time, in another country.
(from Escape To An Autumn Pavement)
Salkey was a director and constant supporter of the London-based publishing company Bogle-L'Ouverture founded by Guyanese-born Jessica Huntley, who (together with a committee comprising Louis James, John La Rose, Marc Matthews, Mervyn Morris, Jason Salkey, Anne Walmsley and Ronald Warwick) organised on 19-20 June 1992 a two-day symposium and celebration called "Salkey's Score". Held at the Commonwealth Institute, it paid tribute to Salkey in respect of his work in London in the 1960s and 1970s with the Caribbean Artists Movement; his journalism on the BBC radio programme Caribbean Voices; his contributions to developing the teaching of Caribbean writing in schools; the importance he gave to the relationship of Africa to personal and communal Caribbean identity; his work in Cuba; and his prolific output of novels, poetry and other writings.
The Andrew Salkey Memorial Scholarship has been established at Hampshire College, as an "award for students who show exceptional writing promise".
- A Quality of Violence (novel; 1959)
- Escape to an Autumn Pavement (novel; 1960)
- West Indian Stories (editor; Faber and Faber, 1960)
- Hurricane (children's novel' Oxford University Press, 1964) (winner of the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis)
- Earthquake (children's novel; Oxford University Press, 1965)
- Stories from the Caribbean (editor; Paul Elek Books, 1965)
- Commonwealth Poetry (editor of West Indian section; 1965)
- The Shark Hunters (Nelson, 1966)
- Drought (Oxford University Press, 1966)
- Riot (Oxford University Press, 1967)
- Caribbean Prose: an anthology for secondary schools (editor; Evans, 1967)
- The Late Emancipation of Jerry Stover (novel; Hutchinson, 1968). ISBN 0-09-085530-2
- The Adventures of Catullus Kelly (Hutchinson, 1969) ISBN 0-09-095140-9
- Island Voices: Stories from the West Indies (compiler; Liveright, 1970). ISBN 0-87140-504-0
- Jonah Simpson (Oxford University Press, 1970)
- Breaklight: an anthology of Caribbean poetry, chosen, edited and introduced by Andrew Salkey (Hamish Hamilton, 1971). ISBN 0-241-01962-1
- Havana Journal (Penguin, 1971) ISBN 0-14-021303-1
- Georgetown Journal: a Caribbean writer’s journey from London via Port of Spain to Georgetown, Guyana, 1970 (New Beacon Books, 1972). ISBN 0-901241-13-X
- Caribbean Essays: an anthology; edited and introduced by Andrew Salkey (Evans, 1973). ISBN 0-237-28943-1
- Jamaica (poems; Hutchinson, 1973; Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications, 1983). ISBN 0-09-115741-2
- Anancy’s Score (Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications, 1973) ISBN 0-9501546-7-9. ISBN 0-9501546-8-7
- Joey Tyson (Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications, 1974). ISBN 0-9501546-9-5, ISBN 0-904521-00-1
- Come Home, Malcolm Heartland (novel; Hutchinson, 1976)
- Writing in Cuba since the Revolution: an anthology of poems, short stories, and essays (editor; Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications, 1977). ISBN 0-904521-05-2, ISBN 0-904521-04-4 (pbk)
- In the Hills Where Her Dreams Live: Poems for Chile, 1973-1978 (Casa de las Americas, 1979)
- The River that Disappeared (Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications, 1979)
- Land (Black Scholar Press, 1979)
- Danny Jones (Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications, 1980)
- Riot (Oxford University Press, 1980). ISBN 0-19-277105-1
- Away (poems; Allison & Busby, 1980). ISBN 0-85031-337-6, ISBN 0-85031-338-4 (pbk)
- The One: the story of how the people of Guyana avenge the murder of their Pasero with help from Brother Anancy and Sister Buxton (Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications, 1985)
- Brother Anancy and other stories (Longman, 1993). ISBN 0-582-22581-7
- In the Border Country and other stories (Bogle-l'Ouverture Press, 1998). ISBN 0-904521-94-X
- "Jamaica Symphony" (long poem, unpublished, winner of Thomas Helmore Poetry Prize, 1955).
Peter Nazareth. In the Trickster Tradition: The Novels of Andrew Salkey, Francis Ebejar and Ishmael Reed. Bogle L'Ouverture Press, 1994.
- Rhonda Cobham-Sander, "Going with the flow",Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, Vol. 10, Iss. 2 [2013, Art. 14; p. 6.
- Andrew Salkey biography. Encyclopedia of AfroEuropean Studies.
- Obituary by Stuart Hall in The Independent, 16 May 1995.
- Hilary Mantel, "Naipaul’s Book of the World" (review of The Writer and the World), New York Review of Books, 24 October 2002. Reprinted at "My Sister Marilyn Monroe".
- Aim25, Archives in London and the M25 Area, "Salkey Score Committee", held at London Metropolitan Archives.
- "Andrew Salkey Memorial Scholarship", Hampshire College Scholarships.
- "Hampshire College Celebrates the Life and Work of Andrew Salkey", The Harold, 19 March 2013.