Biographical Sketch

Paul Breslin

in Nobody's Nation

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780226074269
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226074283 | DOI:
Biographical Sketch

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This chapter presents a biographical sketch of Derek Walcott. Derek was born on 23 January 1930 in Castries, the largest town of St. Lucia. His father Warwick Walcott died on April 23, 1931, after surgery for a mastoid infection. Although the future poet, only a year old at the time, could have no direct memory of him, his father's presence remained in the house. His paintings — he had been a skillful amateur watercolorist — and other “revered, silent objects” hung on the walls and stood on the shelves, meticulously cared for by his widow. He also left behind him a circle of artistically inclined friends who remained close to the family, including a professional painter named Harold Simmons, who became in many respects a father to the fatherless Walcott. It was Simmons who brought Derek's poetry to the attention of Henry Swanzy, who soon afterward invited the eighteen-year-old poet to read on his “Caribbean Voices” BBC program; and it was Simmons's review in 1950 of a joint exhibit of paintings by Walcott and St. Omer that encouraged Walcott to choose poetry as his vocation.

Keywords: Derek Walcott; biography; paintings; Harold Simmons; poetry; Warwick Walcott

Chapter.  14884 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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