Rachel Manley’s new book, Horses in her Hair: An Intimate Portrait of the Life of Edna Manley, was launched last evening at Harmony Hall, St. Anne, Jamaica. The new book is the story of her grandmother Edna—of her growth and evolution as an artist and her role in the history of Jamaica and the Caribbean region. “By connecting the dots of her grandmother’s life from growing up in rural England as a white mulatto in the early 1900s, the historic events that shaped Caribbean history, and the development of her art,” the Gleaner writes, “Rachel writes an intimate family history of a woman who greatly influenced her granddaughter and the culture of a fledgling country.”
The publisher describes the new book thus: Born on England’s cold and rocky Cornish coast, Edna Manley came to Jamaica in 1922. She travelled with her husband, Norman, her newborn son, a set of sculpting tools and an insatiable curiosity about the island of her mother’s birth. As the wife of a National Hero and mother to the island’s fifth prime minister, Edna’s life was inextricably linked with Jamaican politics. But she was destined to leave her own mark on her adopted country. Her legacy—much less easily defined, perhaps than either her husband’s or her son’s—can be seen and heard and read. It is firmly entrenched in the island’s art, in its sculpture and painting and poetry and prose. She was, some say, nothing less than the mother of Jamaica’s artistic soul.
Rachel Manley is the author of the memoir Drumblair: Memories of a Jamaican Childhood, which won the Governor General’s Award for Non-fiction in 1997, and Slipstream: A Daughter Remembers. She has also published three books of poetry and edited Edna Manley: The Diaries, a collection of her grandmother’s journals. Manley is a New York Public Library Fellow, a Pierre Berton Fellow, a Rockefeller Fellow (Bellagio), and a former Bunting Fellow for Literature at Radcliffe College. She serves on the creative writing faculty at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has won Jamaica’s prestigious Centennial Medal for Poetry. Manley divides her time between Toronto and Jamaica. She has two sons, Drum and Luke.