George Lamming (1927– ) By Phillips, George Micajah
George Lamming’s fiction, poetry, criticism, and journalism have been foundational for 20th-century Caribbean and African diasporic identities. To date, he is the author of six loosely connected novels, and is arguably best known for In the Castle of My Skin (1953), The Emigrants (1954), and his widely read critical work, The Pleasures of Exile (1960). In these and other texts, Lamming critiques colonial rule and European hegemony on their own terms through recurring themes such as language, Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, and Christopher Columbus, and through an elliptical narrative style that experiments with point of view, temporality, and dialect as alternative strategies of representation.
Born in Carrington Village, Barbados, in 1927, Lamming briefly moved to Trinidad before becoming one of thousands of West Indians to relocate to post-war England. After settling in London in 1950, he worked for Caribbean Voices, a BBC radio programme that provided a platform for displaced West Indian writers during the 1940s and 1950s. The programme helped Lamming to secure a contract for his first novel, In the Castle of My Skin, which was published in 1953 to almost immediate international success. Based on his own early life, the novel centers on the childhood, colonial education, and young adulthood of “G.”