Derek Walcott (1930 – 2017)

Born along with his twin brother Roderick, on January 23rd 1930 on the island of Saint Lucia in the West Indies.

His father was a civil servant and a talented painter, but died when Walcott and his brother were just one year old. His mother was a teacher, and brought the family up valuing education and reciting poetry.

Growing up he studied painting and writing. He published a poem in the local newspaper. His mother loaned him money to self-publish his first two volumes of poetry, 25 Poems (1948) and Epitaph for the Young: XII Cantos (1949), which he sold to friends and family to make the initial $200 spent printing back.

After graduating from the University College of the West Indies in Jamaica, Walcott moved to Trinidad where he was a critic, teacher and journalist. Exploring the Caribbean through colonialism and post-colonialism, Walcott's book of poems In a Green Night: Poems 1948–1960 (1962) and play Dream on Monkey Mountain (1970) gained international attention.

In 1981 he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship 'Genuis' Grant, and hired by Boston University. He taught literature and writing for more than two decades, retiring in 2007.

His epic poem Omeros, published in 1990, is considered by many to be his masterpiece. In 1992 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the second Caribbean writer to receive the honor.

Over his career Walcott published nearly two dozen collections of poetry and an equal number of plays.

Walcott died at his home Cap Estate, St. Lucia on March 17, 2017.

Books by Derek Walcott