1 minute read

Victor Reid Biography

(1911–87), New Day, Sixty-Five, The Young Warriors, The Leopard

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: David Rabe Biography to Rhinoceros (Rhinocéros)

Jamaican novelist, journalist, and editor, born in Jamaica, educated at Kingston Technical High School. His first novel, New Day (1949), reconstructs the history of Jamaica, as narrated by 87-year-old John Campbell, from his childhood days to 1944, when Jamaica gained internal selfgovernment from Britain. The novel is written entirely in a version of Jamaican English, and interweaves episodes from Jamaican history with incidents involving individuals in Campbell's family. Reid's stated aim is to ‘transfer to paper some of the beauty, kindliness and humour of my people’. This is also the aim in later works of fictionalized history written mainly for younger readers, for example Sixty-Five (1960), which deals with the Morant Bay uprising of 1865, and The Young Warriors (1967), which is concerned with the maroons, African slaves who escaped from their Spanish rulers during the Spanish period of Jamaica's history. Reid's second novel, The Leopard (1958), is a poetic evocation of the Mau Mau war for independence in Kenya, and was written before the author even visited Africa. In spite of this imaginative feat, Reid's lifelong preoccupation was with Jamaican history and culture, and the destiny of the Jamaican people, about which he wrote in several other books including a biography of the Jamaican politician Norman Manley. Reid was awarded the Order of Jamaica in 1980.

Additional topics