H. G. de Lisser

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Herbert George de Lisser CMG (9 December 1878 – 19 May 1944) was a Jamaican journalist and author. He has been called "one of the most conspicuous figures in the history of West Indian literature".[1]

De Lisser was born in Falmouth, Jamaica, to parents who were of Afro-Jewish descent,[2] and attended William Morrison's Collegiate School in Kingston.[1] He started work at the Institute of Jamaica at the age of 14. Three years later he joined the Jamaica Daily Gleaner, of which his father was editor, as a proofreader, and two years later became a reporter on the Jamaica Times.

In 1903, De Lisser became assistant editor of the Gleaner and was editor within the year. He wrote several articles for the paper every day. In 1909 he published a collection of essays, In Cuba and Jamaica, and 1912 saw the publication of his second book, Twentieth Century Jamaica.[2] He went on to produce a novel or non-fiction book every year. His first work of fiction, Jane: A Story of Jamaica, is significant for being the first West Indian novel to have a central black character[1] (a claim that could only be made if one excluded the earlier Jamaican novel, Hamel, The Obeah Man, published in 1827). Another famous novel of his, The White Witch of Rosehall (1929), is linked to a legend of a haunting in Jamaica. De Lisser also wrote several plays.[1] In December 1920 he began publishing an annual magazine, Planters' Punch.[3]

De Lisser devoted much time and effort to the revival of the Jamaican sugar industry and represented Jamaica at a number of sugar conferences around the world. He was also general secretary of the Jamaica Imperial Association, honorary president of the Jamaica Press Association, and chairman of the West Indian section of the Empire Press Union.

He was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 1920 New Year Honours.[4]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Jane: A Story of Jamaica (1913), Kingston: Gleaner Co.
  • Jane's Career: A Story of Jamaica (1914), London: Methuen.
  • Susan Proudleigh (1915), London: Methuen.
  • Triumphant Squalitone: A Tropical Extravaganza (1917), Kingston: Gleaner Co.
  • Revenge: A Tale of Old Jamaica (1919), Kingston: Gleaner Co.
  • The White Witch of Rosehall (1929), London: E. Benn.
  • Under the Sun: A Jamaican Comedy (1937), London: E. Benn.
  • Psyche (1952), London: E. Benn.
  • Morgan's Daughter (1953), London: E. Benn.
  • The Cup and the Lip (1956), London: E. Benn.
  • The Arawak Girl (1958), Kingston: Pioneer Press.


  1. ^ a b c d Michael Hughes, "De Lisser, Herbert G.", A Companion to West Indian Literature, Collins, 1979, pp. 40-42.
  2. ^ a b Rhonda Cobham, "de Lisser, Herbert George", in Eugene Benson and L. W. Conolly (eds), Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English, Routledge (1994), 2nd edition 2005, p. 349.
  3. ^ de Lisser, Herbert G. "Planters' Punch". Digital Library of the Caribbean. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "No. 31712". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1919. p. 4. 


External links[edit]