George Lamming Biography
(1927– ), In the Castle of My Skin, The Emigrants, Of Age and Innocence, Season of Adventure
Barbadian novelist, poet, lecturer, and trade union activist, born in Barbados. Apart from writing, he has produced programmes for the BBC and travelled and lectured widely. Lamming's first novel, In the Castle of My Skin (1953), explores quintessential Caribbean themes of cultural displacement and fragmentation, and the relationship between nationality and colonial or political subjection. It is a multi-layered novel which, at its most obvious level, depicts what the author calls ‘the sprawling dereliction’ of a boy's growth and development into adolescence in colonial Barbados during the 1930s and 1940s. At a more symbolic level, through its intensively lyrical language and poetic evocation of West Indian history, the novel provides a rich and deep meditation on the African origin of West Indians, the damage of slavery, and the prospect for spiritual and political regeneration. When it first appeared, the novel provided the most complete account of West Indian experience that then existed in fiction. Issues of West Indian history, culture, and politics are further considered in The Emigrants (1954), Of Age and Innocence (1958), and Season of Adventure (1960). Lamming's non-fiction work, The Pleasures of Exile (1960), was regarded as an authoritative and far-reaching study of West Indian colonialism. Two more novels appeared in 1972, Natives of My Person and Water with Berries. In later years, Lamming devoted his energies entirely to lectures and essays, and is regarded as one of the most perceptive commentators on the West Indies.