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Hon. Derek Alton Walcott.

 

 

 

 

Literature 1992

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Derek Alton Walcott won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 - the first individual from the English-speaking Caribbean to do so.  His prize winning book Omeros (poem) - published in 1990 tipped the scales in his favour.  In January 1999 he was short-listed as one of the persons recommended to be Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom.

Born at Castries, Saint Lucia on 23rd January 1930 to Alix and Warwick Walcott he is the twin brother of Roderick Alden Walcott who is also a dramatist and writer.  He has one older sister Pamela Walcott St. Hill.  His mother was a school teacher and his father a civil servant and they belonged to the Methodist denomination.  

Derek attended the Methodist Infant School and was awarded a Government Scholarship to St. Mary’s College when he was eleven years old.  While at the college he was awarded a Silver Cup for Literature and went on to become the first Saint Lucian to be awarded a CD&W Scholarship to the University College of the West Indies in 1945.  

He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mona, Jamaica.  When the Federation of the West Indies was inaugurated in Trinidad, it was Derek’s historical play Drums and Colors which was the highlight of the Festival of Arts in Port-of-Spain.

He went on to set up the Trinidad Theatre Workshop in Port-of-Spain and was able to produce his plays such as Dream on Monkey Mountain, Henri Christophe and The Joker of Seville.  

He received a number of awards for his work such as the Pegasus Award for Poetry, the Guinness Award for Poetry, and the Cholmondeley Prize for Poetry.  

In 1957 he was awarded a fellowship by the Rockefeller Foundation to study theatre in the United States.  

In 1970 he received a Commonwealth Fellowship to the Leeds University for six months and later that year a fellowship grant from the Andrew Wood Foundation to continue theatre work in Trinidad followed.

In 1972 he was awarded the Queen’s OBE for Literature and in 1973 was the first graduate of the University College of the West Indies to be awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters.  He also received the Hummingbird Gold Medal from Dr. Eric Williams.  

Walcott is truly a Caribbean man and attributes his success to his mother who was an amateur dramatist, his father who was an amateur artist, his mentor Harold Simmons who helped him with his painting and writing, his years in the St. Lucia Arts Guild which he helped to establish, the beauty of the flora and fauna of his homeland and his strong Protestant background.  

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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