Dr. Anne Walmsley, British editor and researcher, is to receive the 2018 Bocas Henry Swanzy Award for Distinguished Service to Caribbean Letters, an honour presented annually by the Bocas Lit Fest. The announcement was made by Marina Salandy-Brown, founder and festival director, at the media launch for the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest on 21 March. Walmsley will be recognized during the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, and in July the award will be formally presented at a ceremony in London. The 2018 NGC Boas Lit Fest runs from 25 to 29 April in Port of Spain. [See www.bocaslitfest.com for more information.]
The Bocas Henry Swanzy Award, founded in 2013, is named for the late BBC radio producer (1915–2004) who created a landmark platform for Caribbean writing in the 1940s and 50s through the Caribbean Voices programme, which broadcast fiction and poems by West Indian writers across the region. Awardees are chosen by the Bocas Lit Fest.
In previous years, the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award was presented to Joan Dayal, proprietor of Paper Based Books (2017); Jeremy Poynting, founder of Peepal Tree Press (2016); editor and broadcaster Margaret Busby, OBE (2015); literary critics Kenneth Ramchand and Gordon Rohlehr (2014); and publishers John La Rose and Sarah White of New Beacon Books (2013).
Walmsley, a respected supporter and facilitator of Caribbean writers for five decades, is the former publisher of Longman Caribbean, editor of the landmark anthologies The Sun’s Eye and Facing the Sea, and historian of the Caribbean Artists’ Movement (CAM), among other achievements.
She began her career in publishing in the 1950s, at the renowned house of Faber, before moving to Jamaica, where she worked as a teacher for three years. Her experience in the Caribbean led her, on her return to London, to join Longman as their first Caribbean editor. In that role she published several key Caribbean writers of the 1960s and 70s, and edited The Sun’s Eye as an anthology for use in secondary schools, introducing a generation of young Caribbean readers to the growing literature of their region.
After retiring from Longman, Walmsley began formal research into the Caribbean Artists Movement, whose London meetings she had attended in the 1960s, befriending key figures such as the Barbadian poet and scholar Kamau Brathwaite. Her PhD dissertation was later published in 1992 as The Caribbean Artists Movement: A Literary and Cultural History, 1966–1971, the definitive document of a significant moment in Caribbean cultural history.
Walmsley’s articles and essays on numerous Caribbean writers and artists have appeared in a range of periodicals and books. In 2009 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of the West Indies for her contributions to Caribbean literature and art. In recent years, she has donated her papers and library — a rich resource for future scholars — to several university libraries, including the Main Library at UWI’s St. Augustine campus, which now houses her archives and documentation of Caribbean art and artists.
Other portions of her archives are now housed at the University of Sussex (correspondence with Caribbean writers), and Walmsley recently donated her personal library of West Indian literature to the University of Newcastle.
Walmsley will be recognised during the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, and in July the award will be formally presented at a ceremony in London, where Walmsley lives.
The National Gas Company is the title sponsor of the festival, First Citizens is the lead sponsor, main sponsors are the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts and One Caribbean Media. Massy Foundation is a sponsor. The 2018 NGC Boas Lit Fest runs from 25 to 29 April in Port of Spain. See www.bocaslitfest.com for more information.