New Book: Lisa Tomlinson’s “Una Marson”


Una Marson (The University of the West Indies Press, 2019) by Lisa Tomlinson, who focuses on Jamaican activist and writer Una Maud Victoria Marson, the BBC’s first black woman broadcaster. This is one of the latest publications of the UWI’s Caribbean Biography Series.

Description: Una Marson’s work embodied anti-colonialism, anti-racism, feminism, class politics and pan-Africanism in the first half of the twentieth century. Her poetry and dramatic work symbolically ushered in a new era in Jamaica’s literary landscape and her efforts in championing early Jamaican literature, as well as her avid support for Caribbean writers in Britain and the region, made her a key proponent of the development of a national and West Indian literary canon.

She challenged racial inequality, affirmed standards of black beauty and black identity, and explored the complexities of gender, religious discrimination and class/economic exploitation. She did not frame her work around a single cause but, instead, she was mindful of the multiple intersections of oppression. Britain’s hold on Jamaica’s cultural imagination would finally be challenged by artists like Marson who were eager to free their nation of colonial authority and cultural dominance. In the end, through her advocacy and pioneering work, Marson achieved a voice for the oppressed.

Lisa Tomlinson is Lecturer in Literary and Cultural Studies, the Institute of Caribbean Studies, the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. She is the author of The African-Jamaican Aesthetic: Cultural Retention and Transformation across Borders.

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