Chronology of Caribbean Literature in English

created by Dave Lichtenstein '99, Contributing Editor, Caribbean Web

Before 1913 No literary works published by native West Indians. Writing on the Caribbean consisted mainly of Victorian women's travelogues and slave narratives like those of Frederick Douglass or Olaudah Equiano.
1913 E.G. de Lisser creates his own publishing company, called Pioneer Press, in Jamaica. He uses it to put out his novel Jane: A Story of Jamaica, the first truly significant english novel from the Caribbean. This was followed by Jane's Career,The White Witch of Rosehall, and several other works.
1929 J.E.C. McFarlane (Jamaica) edits Voices from Summerland, the first anthology of British West Indian verse.
1929-1933 Flourish of literary creation in Trinidad: Alfred Mendes and C.L.R. James put out Trinidad Christmas 1929 and Easter 1930; Albert Gomes creates New Beacon, published monthly from 1931 to 1933.
1933 Jamaican Claude McKay, writing as part of the Harlem Renaissance, publishes Banana Bottomand in 1939, Gingertown.
1942 The monthly journal Bimbegun by Frank Collymore (Barbados). This journal, which is still published (though irregularly) today, brings together Caribbean creative and critical writing. Contributors have included A.N. Forde and Kamau Brathwaite.
1942-1959 B.B.C. program Caribbean Voices establishes major platform of Caribbean writers in England. Edited by Una Marsan and Henry Swanzy.
1943-1960 The annual publication Focuscreated; edited by Edna Manley and other in Jamaica, it allowed a forum in which left wing creative writers (such as George Campbell and V.S. Reid) could speak. Revived in 1983.
1945-1961 A.J. Seymour (Guyana) edits Kyk-over-AlContributors include Wilson Harris, Edgar Mittelholzer and critics Ivan van Sertima and Kenneth Ramchand.
1948 First major wave of Caribbean emigrants to England; literary movement of these emigrants blossoms with leaders such as Edgar Mittleholzer, Samuel Selvon, George Lamming, V.S. Naipaul, and Andrew Salkey.
1949 University of the West Indies (UWI) founded in Jamaica (with later campuses in Trinidad, Barbados, and Guyana). Graduates and teachers to include Derek Walcott, Wayne Brown, Mervyn Morris, John Hearne, Gordon Rohlehr, and Kenneth Ramchand.
1949 V.S. Reid publishes New Day; a celebration of Jamaican independence that used a modified form of Jamaican dialect.
1950 Edgar Mittleholzer writes A Day at the Office, dramatizes the social structure of Trinidad through his presentation of a morning at an office building.
1952 Mittleholzer, Children of Kaywana, Selvon, A Brighter Sun.
1953 Phyllis Allfrey, The Orchid House, George Lamming (Barbados), In the Castle of My Skin. While Allfrey's novel receives little notice, Lamming's work gains widespread attention and catalyzes a decade-long flourish of Caribbean literature in British publishing.
1955 John Hearne (Jamaica), Voices Under the Window. Other prominent works include The Land of the Living (1961) and The Sure Salvation (1986).
1960 Wilson Harris (Guyana), Palace of the Peacock. Other titles later compiled into "The Guyana Quartet" are Far Journey of Oudin (1961), and Whole Armour (1962); also Secret Ladder (1963) and Heartland (1964).
1961 V.S. Naipaul (Trinidad), A House for Mr. Biswas, perhaps the most canonized and widely read novel in the British West Indies.
1961 Franz Fanon (Martinique), The Wretched of the Earth; explores psychological elements in Postcolonial struggles. Influence reaches much of Third World, including Caribbean.
1962 Derek Walcott's first major collection, In a Green Night. Followed by The Castaway (1965), The Gulf (1969), and other collections.
1965 Michael Anthony (Trinidad), The Year in San Fernando. Creates a Caribbean child's perspective, which also appeared in works such as Lamming's In the Castle of My Skin, Geoffrey Drayton's Christopher (1959) and Ian Macdonald's The Humming Bird Tree (1969).
1966 Caribbean Artists movement initiated in London by Kamau Brathwaite, Andrew Salkey, John la Rose, etc. Through conferences at the University of Kent (1963, 1967) and the inauguration of the periodical Savacou (1969) the movement attempted to coordinate Caribbean writers and artists.
1966 Jean Rhys (Dominica), Wide Sargasso Sea; a retelling of Jane Eyre from the perspective of the Creole "madwoman" in the attic.
1967 V.S. Naipaul, The Mimic Men.
1967 Kamau Brathwaite, Rights of Passage, later incorporated into the trilogy "The Arrivants" along with Masks (1968) and Islands (1969).
1968 Wilson Harris, Tumatumari.
1968 The Islands in Between published, the first anthology of Anglophone Caribbean literary criticism; composed mainly of Caribbean writers.
1970 Merle Hodge (Jamaica), Crick Crack Monkey. Its publication signals an emergence of the women's perspective in Caribbean literature, paving the way for such work as Jamaica Kincaid's (Antigua) At the Bottom of the River, 1983; Jane and Lousia Will Soon come Home by Erna Brodber (Jamaica), 1980; and Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell (Belize), 1982.
1970 Derek Walcott, Dream on Monkey Mountain and other Plays.
1972 Walter Rodney (Guyana), How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. A historical attack on European colonial powers.
1973 Derek Walcott, Another Life. An intricate, groundbreaking autobiographical poem.
1974 Roy Heath (Guyana), A Man Come Home. Followed by The Murderer (1978); wins Guardian Fiction Prize.
1977 Kamau Brathwaite, Mother Poem: inaugurates his second triology to be completed with Sun Poem (1982) and Ex/Self (1987).
1979 Earl Lovelace, The Dragon Can't Dance.
1979 V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River.
1982 Earl Lovelace, The Wine of Astonishment.
1987 Naipaul, The Enigma of Arrival.
1989 Derek Walcott, Omeros.
1989 The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin published. Seminal work in defining and organizing Post-Colonial terms and theory, formal entrance into scholarly world.
1990 Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy.
1991 Caryl Phillips, Cambridge.
1992 Derek Walcott becomes first Caribbean author to win Nobel Prize for literature.
1994 Erna Brodber, Louisiana.

For more complete contemporary listings, please see the "works" section for each individual author under the Caribbean authors overview.


Compiled from Chronology of Caribbean Literature in English in Context (selective) by E. O'Callaghan, UWI Cave Hill. Unpublished.

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