Caribbean Literature

A book is a life, and this

White paper death,

I roll it on the drum and write,

Rum-courage on my breath.

The truth is no less hard

Than it was years ago,

Than what Catullus, Villon heard,

Each word,

Black footprints in the frightening snow


Derek Walcott

The above poem entitles Greenwich Village, Winter; it was written by Derek Walcott from St Lucia. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1992. This web page is dedicated to Caribbean writers who were the most outstanding in the late 19th century and all along the 20th century. One of the earliest writings in English literature from the Caribbean is an anonymous poem written in Jamaica in 1718. It was written to welcome a governor to the island. However early the date mentioned may seem, we must say that prominent Caribbean authors appeared in the early 20th century. The BBC, the British Broadcasting Corporation in the Caribbean, played an important role in that they broadcast the first works produced by about 200 writers.


Derek Walcott was born in St Lucia in 1930. He is considered to be one of the most remarkable figures in Caribbean poetry. Apart form poems, he has written plays such as Henri Christophe in 1950, Drums and Colors in 1961, Dream on Monkey Mountain in 1970, O Babylon in 1978, and Viva Detroit in 1992 of which Dream on Monkey Mountain was the most famous. However many plays he has written, he has been a lot more prominent as a poet.  His earliest collection has In a Green Night written in 1962, The Gulf 1969, and Another Life concluded in 1972. This last is a work in twenty-three sections. His latest works are Tiepolo's Hound 2000, and Walker and The Ghost Dance 2002.

Derek Walcott died 17 March 2017.

 Louise Bennett- Miss Lou
Another important poet from the region is Louise Bennett  born in Jamaica (7 September 1919 – 26 July 2006). In her poems she characterizes by the use of
Jamaican English, satire and comedy. She is also the most loved Jamaican artiste, folklorist, and has appeared in several television shows and pantomimes. She has traveled around the world promoting the Jamaican culture through lectures and performances which have been of great informative value to not only students but the public in general. You can listen to her performances by buying her recordings at


Me glad fe se's you come back bwoy,
But lawd yuh let me dung,
Me shame o' yuh soh till all o'
Me proudness drop a grung.

Yuh mean yuh goh dah 'Merica
An spen six whole mont' deh,
An come back not a piece betta
Dan how yuh did goh wey?

Bwoy yuh noh shame? Is soh you come?
Afta yuh tan soh lang!
Not even lickle language bwoy?
Not even little twang?

An yuh sista wat work ongle
One week wid 'Merican
She talk so nice now dat we have
De jooce fe undastan?

Bwoy yuh couldn' improve yuhself!
An yuh get soh much pay?
Yuh spen six mont' a foreign, an
Come back ugly same way?

Not even a drapes trouziz? or
A pass de rydim coat?
Bwoy not even a gole teet or
A gole chain roun yuh t'roat.

Suppose me las' rne pass go introjooce
Yuh to a stranga
As me lamented son wat lately
Come from 'Merica!

Dem hooda laugh afta me, bwoy
Me could'n tell dem soh!
Dem hooda sey me lie, yuh was
A-spen time back a Mocho.

Noh back-ansa me bwoy, yuh talk
Too bad; shet up yuh mout,
Ah doan know how yuh an yuh puppa
Gwine to meck it out.

Ef yuh want please him meck him tink
Yuh bring back someting new.
Yuh always call him "Pa" dis evenin'
Wen him come sey "Poo".

As regards novelists, Claude McKay was the first major writer. He was born in 1889 and died in 1948. Although he left the region to move to the United States in 1912, he left two collections of poems, Constab Ballads and Songs of Jamaica. He later wrote a novel entitled Banana Bottom which is considered a Caribbean classic.

Other writers:

Thomas MacDermot (1870-1933)

Edgar Mittelholzer (1909-1965) Guyana

Samuel Selvon (20 May 1923–16 April 1994) Trinidad

George Lamming (b. 1927) Jamaica

Roger Mais (1905-1955)

V. S. Naipaul (b. 1932) Trinidad

Wilson Harris (b. 1921) Guyana

V. S. Reid Jamaica

Andrew Salkey Jamaica

John Hearne Jamaica