Peter Hulme’s edition of W. Adolphe Roberts’ autobiography, These Many Years, has been published by the University of the West Indies Press. This account of Roberts’ fascinating and peripatetic Caribbean life (1886-1962) offers a compelling glimpse into a crucial period in the region’s cultural and political history.
W. Adolphe Roberts (1886-1962) was a prolific writer upoet, novelist, journalist, historian. As a political activist he also laid the groundwork for Jamaican independence. Finally published, 52 years after his death, his autobiography, These Many Years, offers a representative Caribbean life: rural upbringing, precocious talent, travel to the USA, literary success, adventures across the world, involvement in politics, return to Jamaica.
In New York Roberts worked as a journalist and editor. However, in the mid-1930s, he made contact with Jamaican activists in Harlem and launched the Jamaica Progressive League, pioneering the movement for self-government. Moving back to Jamaica, Roberts decided against a political career, dedicating himself to studying the region and writing books such as The Caribbean: The Story of Our Sea of Destiny and Six Great Jamaicans: Biographical Sketches.
Roberts’ zestful account of his literary life, his open recollection of his many lovers, and his frank assessment of his political friends and enemies, including Norman Manley and Alexander Bustamante, make These Many Years a vital source for the Jamaican national story.