Jamaica Kincaid is a writer from the Caribbean who is a winner of numerous awards such as: The 1985 international Ritz Paris Hemingway, Anifield Wolf and The Lila-Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund. Her most popular poetic work is “Girl” is a direct example of her life in Antigua.
Elaine Potter Richardson, better known as Jamaica Kincaid, was born on May 25, 1949 on the tiny island of Antigua and Barbuda. Born to mother Annie Richardson and a father she did not know, she lived with her mother and stepfather. It is during this time that most critics believe that Girl by Jamaica Kincaid is based on.
Kincaid completed her secondary education in Antigua under the British colonial education system. She later went to America at the age of sixteen years old to work as an au pair for three years at Westchester, New York. She was awarded a full scholarship to attend Franconia College in New Hampshire for a year.
After a year at college she abruptly stopped to pursue her first writing career and started working at Ingenue magazine. While here she started writing a series of articles and that’s when she changed her name to Jamaica Kincaid.
She started to gain recognition and was noticed by the editor for the “New Yorker”, William Shawn. Later she became a staff writer for the “New Yorker” and for the next nine years was a featured columnist in the section “Talk of the Town”.
In 1983 she published her first book which was called “At the Bottom of the River”. This book contained a series of short stories which some persons referred to as poems. The majority of the titles were already published in the New Yorker but she combined everything into this dreamlike reflection of her life with her mother when she lived in Antigua.
This was the beginning of her illustrious writing career as she went on produce the following materials, listed in year and title:
o In 1978 the poem “Girl by Jamaica Kincaid”, appeared first in the magazine then later in the book titled “At the Bottom of the River”.
o In 1984, At the Bottom of the River
o In 1985, Annie John
o In 1988, A Small Place
o In 1989, Annie, Gwen, Lilly, Pam and Tulip
o In 1990, Lucy and Biography of a Dress
o 1991, An essay titled, On Seeing England for the First Time
o 1995, The Autobiography of My Mother
o 1997, My Brother
o 1998, Writers and Gardeners on the Plants they love: My Favorite Plant
o 1999, My Garden
o 2001, Talk Stories and My Garden; there was also a film named Life and Debt.
o 2002, Mr. Potter
Kincaid’s fiction cannot be formally described as autobiographical, but her work both fiction and nonfiction has always been critically acclaimed. She writes and expresses her feelings, life experiences and even touched on political spectrum with her anger on the Antiguans for failing to achieve independence.
For example in her novel “Lucy” she explores the experiences of a young West Indian au pair which many thought paralleled the life of both hers and her colleagues.
She later married the son of William Shawn, a College professor named Allan Shawn. They now live in Bennington, Vermont with their two children. We still believe Girl by Jamaica Kincaid is one of the best contemporary poems ever written by a Caribbean born novelist and poet.