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George Lamming (born 8 June 1927) is a Barbadian novelist, essayist and poet and an important figure in Caribbean literature. He has also held academic posts including as a distinguished visiting professor at Duke University and a visiting professor in the Africana Studies Department of Brown University, and has lectured extensively around the world.
Early life and education
George William Lamming was born on 8 June 1927 in Carrington Village, Barbados, of mixed African and English parentage. After his mother married his stepfather, Lamming split his time between this birthplace and his stepfather's home in St David's Village. Lamming attended Roebuck Boys' School and Combermere School on a scholarship. Encouraged by his teacher, Frank Collymore, Lamming found the world of books and started to write.
Lamming left Barbados to work as a teacher from 1946 to 1950 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, at El Colegio de Venezuela, a boarding school for boys. He then emigrated to England where, for a short time, he worked in a factory. In 1951 he became a broadcaster for the BBC Colonial Service. His writings were published in the Barbadian magazine Bim, edited by his teacher Frank Collymore, and the BBC's Caribbean Voices radio series broadcast his poems and short prose. Lamming himself read poems on Caribbean Voices, including some by the young Derek Walcott.
Lamming's first novel, In the Castle of My Skin, was published in London in 1953. It won a Somerset Maugham Award and was championed by eminent figures the like of Jean-Paul Sartre and Richard Wright, the latter writing an introduction to the book's US edition. Lamming was subsequently awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and became a professional writer. He began to travel widely, going to the United States in 1955, the West Indies in 1956 and West Africa in 1958.
He entered academia in 1967 as a writer-in-residence and lecturer in the Creative Arts Centre and Department of Education at the University of the West Indies, Kingston (1967–68). Since then, he has been a visiting professor in the USA at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Pennsylvania, and Brown University, and a lecturer in Denmark, Tanzania, and Australia.
Lamming is the author of six novels: In the Castle of My Skin (1953), The Emigrants (1954), Of Age and Innocence (1958), Season of Adventure (1960), Water with Berries (1971) and Natives of My Person (1972). His much acclaimed first novel, In the Castle of My Skin, featuring an autobiographical character named G., can be read as both a coming-of-age story as well as the story of the Caribbean.
His 1960 collection of essays, The Pleasures of Exile, is a pioneering work that attempts to define the place of the West Indian in the post-colonial world, re-interpreting Shakespeare's The Tempest and the characters of Prospero and Caliban in terms of personal identity and the history of the Caribbean.
A more recent(1995) collection of essays is Coming, Coming Home: Conversations II – Western Education and the Caribbean Intellectual.
Honours and recognition
Brown University held a two-day series of events celebrating Lamming, 8–9 March 2011.
In May 2011 the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) awarded Lamming the first Caribbean Hibiscus Award in acknowledgement of his lifetime's work. In 2014, he won a Lifetime Achievement Prize from the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards.
His work is celebrated through the George Lamming Pedagogical Centre, housed at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination (EBCCI), with annual distinguished lecture series held annually in June, the month of Lamming's birth. His personal literary collection is housed at the Sidney Martin Library, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados.
- In the Castle of My Skin (London: Michael Joseph; New York: McGraw-Hill, 1953)
- The Emigrants (London: Michael Joseph; New York: McGraw Hill, 1954. London: Allison & Busby, 1980)
- Of Age and Innocence (London: Michael Joseph, 1958; London: Allison & Busby, 1981)
- Season of Adventure (London: Michael Joseph, 1960; Allison & Busby, 1979; Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999)
- Water with Berries (London: Longman, 1971; New York: Holt Rinehart, 1972)
- Natives of my Person (London: Longman; New York: Holt Rinehart, 1972. London: Allison & Busby, 1986)
- The Pleasures of Exile (London: Michael Joseph, 1960; Allison & Busby, 1981; Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992)
- Coming, Coming Home: Conversations II – Western Education and the Caribbean Intellectual (Philipsburg, St. Martin: House of Nehesi, 1995; in Spanish as Regreso, regreso al hogar: Conversaciones II, 2000)
- Sovereignty of the Imagination: Conversations III – Language and the Politics of Ethnicity (2009)
- Caribbean Reasonings – The George Lamming Reader: The Aesthetics of Decolonisation (edited by Anthony Bogues), Ian Randle Publishers, 2010.
- Editor, Cannon Shot and Glass Beads: Modern Black Writing (London: Pan, 1974).
- Editor, On the Canvas of the World (Port of Spain: Trinidad & Tobago Institute of the West Indies, 1999.
Uncollected short stories
- "David's Walk", in Life and Letters (London), November 1948.
- "Of Thorns and Thistles" and "A Wedding in Spring", in West Indian Stories, ed. Andrew Salkey. London: Faber, 1960.
- "Birds of a Feather", in Stories from the Caribbean, ed. Andrew Salkey. London: Elek, 1965; as Island Voices, New York: Liveright, 1970.
- "Birthday Weather", in Caribbean Literature, ed. G. R. Coulthard. London: University of London Press, 1966.
- 1954: Kenyon Review Fellowship
- 1955: Guggenheim Fellowship
- 1957: Somerset Maugham Award for In the Castle of My Skin
- 1962: Canada Council fellowship
- 1987: Companion of Honour of Barbados (CHB)
- 1998: Langston Hughes Medal
- 2003: Fellow of the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ)
- 2008: Order of the Caribbean Community
- 2009: The President's Award (St. Martin Book Fair)
- 2011: Caribbean Hibiscus Prize from UNEAC
- 2012: ALBA Cultural Award
- 2013: Clement Payne Appreciation Award
- 2014: Lifetime Achievement, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards
- David P. Lichtenstein, "A Brief Biography of George Lamming", Literature of the Caribbean.
- Brown University, Africana Studies.
- Sherrylyn Clarke, "Black History Month: George Lamming", NationNews (Barbados), 13 February 2014.
- "George Lamming is Chief Judge of the Inaugural Walter Rodney Creative Writing Award", Walter Rodney Foundation, 15 February 2014.
- "George Lamming", Encyclopædia Britannica.
- Bruce King, Derek Walcott: A Caribbean Life (2000), p. 62.
- "George Lamming", East-West Center.
- George Lamming interview by Erika J. Waters, The Caribbean Writer, 7 December 1998.
- Michael Hughes, "Lamming, George", in A Companion to West Indian Literature, Collins, 1979, p. 69.
- Gerald Moore, "George (Eric) Lamming Biography".
- "Lamming laments Rodney amnesia in Guyana", Stabroek News, 1 May 2012.
- Teresa Anderson, "In the Castle of My Skin", Colonial & Postcolonial Literary Dialogues, Western Michigan University.
- Liukkonen, Petri. "George Lamming". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 10 February 2015.
- "George Lamming’s Coming Home published in Spanish; to be launched at Carifesta VII in St. Kitts-Nevis", House of Nehesi, 3 September 2000.
- Kelly Baker Josephs, "Tribute to George Lamming", The Caribbean Commons — Caribbean Studies in the Northeast US, CUNY, 7 March 2011.
- "Cuba honours Lamming's work", NationNews, 21 May 2011.
- Carol Martindale, "Lamming wins literary award", NationNews, 12 May 2011.
- "George Lamming – 2014 Lifetime Achievement", 80th Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards.
- "About Us", abusSTAR.
- "Barbados: Educators excited as CFS model is expanded", Eastern Caribbean – UNICEF.
- "The George Lamming Pedagogical Centre", EBCCI, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados.
- "Sovereignty of the Imagination, Language and the Politics of Ethnicity - Conversations III" at Amazon.
- "George Lamming guest lectures at the St. Augustine Campus", Campus News, UWI, St Augustine, 12 September 2011.
- The Somerset \Maugham Awards – Past Winners", The Society of Authors.
- Manheim, James, "George Lamming", Contemporary Black Biography, 2003. Encyclopedia.com.
- "Langston Hughes Medal", Book Awards, lovethebook.com.
- Al Creighton, "George Lamming: 'An outstanding Caribbean literary icon'", Stabroek News, 22 June 2003.
- Debbie Ransome, "Caricom's 'disconnect'", BBC Caribbean, 2 July 2008.
- 7th Annual St. Martin Bookfair (Salon de Livre de St. Martin), 2009.
- "George Lamming Thanks Alba Award for the Work of his Life", Radio Cadena Agramonte, Cuba, 18 February 2012.
- Editorial, "Celebrating with the indefatigable George Lamming", Jamaica Observer, 28 April 2013.
- Anthony Boxhill, Critical Perspectives on George Lamming, Passeggiata Press, 1986.
- Dalleo, Raphael. "Authority and the Occasion for Speaking in the Caribbean Literary Field: George Lamming and Martin Carter”. Small Axe 20 (June 2006): 19–39.
- Dalleo, Raphael. Caribbean Literature and the Public Sphere: From the Plantation to the Postcolonial. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011.
- Forbes, Curdella. From Nation to Diaspora: Samuel Selvon, George Lamming And the Cultural Performance of Gender. Kingston: University of West Indies Press, 2005.
- Joseph, Margaret Paul. Caliban in Exile: The Outsider in Caribbean Fiction. New York: Greenwood Press, 1992.
- Munro, Ian, "George Lamming", in Bruce King (ed.), West Indian Literature, Macmillan, 1979, pp. 126–43.
- Nair, Supriya. Caliban's Curse: George Lamming and the Revisioning of History. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996.
- Pouchet Paquet, Sandra. The Novels of George Lamming. London: Heinemann, 1983.
- Saunders, Patricia. "The Pleasures/Privileges of Exile: Re/covering Race and Sexuality in The Pleasures of Exile and Water With Berries. Alien-Nation and Repatriation: Translating Identity in Anglophone Caribbean Literature. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007.
- Simoes da Silva, A. J., The Luxury of Nationalist Despair: George Lamming's Fiction as Decolonizing Project, Atlanta: Rodopi, 2000.
- The Honourable George Lamming, CHB, citation for Order of the Caribbean Community, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat website
- Transcript of interview with George Lamming, Banyan, 1969.
- Petri Liukkonen. "George Lamming". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Archived from the original on 4 July 2013.
- "George Lamming on Art & Artists". Video interview by Margaret Gill for NCF Barbados.