Biography of Derek Walcott

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Famous English Poet Derek Walcott Biography

Derek Walcott Famous as Poet, Playwright, Writer, Visual Artist
Derek Walcott  Born in Castries, Saint Lucia
Derek Walcott Nationality Saint Lucia
Derek Walcott  Works & Achievements : Best known for his epic poem ‘Omeros’, ‘Nobel Prize for Literature’ (1992), honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

A Nobel laureate and an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Derek Walcott is one of the creative geniuses born in West Indies. He is only the third black to receive the ($1.2 million) Nobel Prize.

A poet, playwright, writer and visual artist by profession, Walcott has to his credit some of the best poetries and plays known to the world. He is also the founder of the Trinidad Theatre Workshop (in Trinidad) and the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (at Boston University).

Derek Walcott Childhood & Early Life

Derek Walcott was born in the town of Castries, in Saint Lucia, one of the Windward Islands in the Lesser Antilles, on January 23, 1930. His father, Warwick, a Bohemian artist, died when he was young. As such, Walcott was raised by his mother, Alix, the head of the local Methodist School, who was very well read and also instilled the love of poetry in her children. Walcott completed his education from St. Mary’s College in Castries. His first published poem was ‘1944’, a 44 lines of blank verse, which appeared in ‘The Voice of St. Lucia’.
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In the year 1948, Walcott self published ’25 Poems’. The following year, the ‘Epitaph for the Young: XII Cantos’ was released. Both the volumes reflected the influence he had gained from the creative masterminds, such as William Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. A bright student, Walcott received a Colonial Development and Welfare scholarship and moved to the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, where he learned different languages, such as French, Latin and Spanish.

Walcott’s first play, Henri Christopher, was performed in 1950. The same year, he founded the St Lucia Arts Guild. Two years later, he published the volume ‘Poems’. The next year, i.e. in 1953, Walcott was off to Trinidad, to work as theatre and art critic. From 1953 to 1957, he worked as a teacher in the schools on several Caribbean islands. It was during this time that he started his profession as a journalist, writing features for both Public Opinion (in Kingston) and Trinidad Guardian. He also wrote drama critics for the latter.

Walcott was also recruited as a professor of poetry in the University of Boston and hence, had to arrange his schedule in a manner that allowed him to give equal time to both Trinidad and USA. In 1957, Walcott received a fellowship by the Rockefeller Foundation, to studythe American theater, in New York. Two years later, in 1959, he founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, which produced the plays he had written earlier (Most of the plays written by Walcott are produced by the Trinidad Theatre Workshop only).

Though Walcott has received much success and admiration for his work, he was still missing his masterpiece. It was with the publication of ‘In a Green Night’, in 1962, that Walcott reached the pinnacle of success. Walcott founded the BostonPlaywrights ‘ Theatre, at Boston University, in the year 1981, with a vision to create a home for the plays in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1998, Walcott explored the genre of essays, with his first collection ‘What the Twilight Says’. In 2007, he retired from his post in the Creative Writing Department at Boston University, where he taught poetry and drama.

The Present

Since the foundation of Trinidad Theatre Workshop, Walcott has been an active member of its Board of Directors. An industrious traveler, Walcott has explored many cities and countries since his first venture, but has his heart still remains the Caribbean society.

The cultural fusion of African, Asiatic and European elements, which he finds out there, has attracted this creative poet and playwright. Although Walcott has retired, he continues to give readings and lectures in various colleges, throughout the world.

Derek Walcott Writing Themes & Style

Walcott’s hometown has had a steep influence on him, which is evidently reflected in his works as well. The experience of growing up on the isolated volcanic island is seen in many of his works, be it poetry, plays oressays .

Walcott’s plays have a fusion of elements which are seen in folktales, morality plays, allegory, fable and ritualistic and mythical ones. Epistemological, ontological, economical, political and social themes are some of the most explored subjects seen in his plays.

Derek Walcott Personal Life

Derek Walcott tied the nuptial knot with Fay Moston, a secretary. However, the marriage did not last long and the couple got divorced after a few years. Walcott got married for the second time, to Margaret Maillard, who worked an almoner in a hospital.

However, the couple soon broke up. Later, in 1976, the wedding bells rang again, as Walcott married Norline Metivier. Much like his previous attempts, his third marriage also failed and the duo parted ways.

Derek Walcott Awards

  • MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award
  • Royal Society of Literature Award
  • Queen’s Medal for Poetry (1988)
  • Nobel Prize in Literature (1992)


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Derek Walcott Works

Derek Walcott Poetry

1948 – 25 Poems
1949 – Epitaph for the Young: Xll Cantos
1951 – Poems
1962 – In a Green Night: Poems 1948-60
1964 – Selected Poems
1965 – The Castaway and Other Poems
1969 – The Gulf and Other Poems
1973 – Another Life
1976 – Sea Grapes
1979 – The Star-Apple Kingdom
1981 – Selected Poetry, The Fortunate Traveller
1983 – The Caribbean Poetry of Derek Walcott and the Art of Romare Bearden
1984 – Midsummer
1986 – Collected Poems, 1948-1984
1987 – The Arkansas Testament
1990 – Omeros
1997 – The Bounty
2000 – Tiepolo’s Hound
2004 – The Prodigal
2007 – Selected Poems (Edited, selected, and with an introduction by Edward Baugh)

Derek Walcott Plays

1950 – Henri Christophe: A Chronicle in Seven Scenes
1951 – Harry Dernier: A Play for Radio Production
1953 – Wine of the Country
1954 – The Sea at Dauphin: A Play in One Act
1957 – Ione
1958 – Drums and Colours: An Epic Drama, Ti-Jean and His Brothers
1966 – Malcochon: or, Six in the Rain
1967 – Dream on Monkey Mountain
1970 – In a Fine Castle
1974 – The Joker of Seville, The Charlatan
1976 – O Babylon!
1977 – Remembrance
1978 – Pantomime
1980 – The Joker of Seville and O Babylon!: Two Plays
1982 – The Isle Is Full of Noises
1986 – Three Plays (The Last Carnival, Beef, No Chicken, and A Branch of the Blue Nile)
1991 – Steel
1993 – Odyssey: A Stage Version
1997 – The Capeman (lyrics, in collaboration with Paul Simon)
2002 – Walker and The Ghost Dance

Derek Walcott Essays

1998 –  What The Twilight Says

Derek Walcott Timeline :

1930 – D erek Walcott was born
1944 – Gothis first poem ‘1944’ published
1948 – Self published ’25 Poems’
1949 – Self published ‘Epitaph for the Young: XII Cantos’
1950 – Walcott’s first play, Henri Christopher, was performed, Founded the St. Lucia Arts Guild
1952 – Published the volume ‘Poems’
1953 – Went to Trinidad, to work as theatre and art critic
1953 to 57 – Worked as a teacher at schools, on several Caribbean islands
1957 – Received a fellowship by Rockefeller Foundation, to study the American theater
1959 – Founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop
1962 – Published ‘In a Green Night’
1981 – Founded the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre at Boston University
1998 – Gothis first collection of essay ‘What the Twilight Says’ published
2007 – Retired from the Creative Writing Department at Boston University