Born on This Day in 1949, Here Are 5 Things To Know About Jamaica Kincaid
Caribbean American writer, Jamaica Kincaid, brings vivid portrayals of family relationships and Antiguan culture to the various essays, stories and novels she has published. She became a regularly featured writer and had her own column, “The Talk of the Town.” Here are five things to know about Jamaica Kincaid.
- Jamaica Kincaid, born in St John’s, Antigua on May 25, 1949, was sent to the United States to work as a nanny. As the oldest, she was tasked with the responsibility to help provide for her family. This strained her relationship with her mother and led to her feeling neglected. After arriving in America, Kincaid refused to send any money back home.
- She was born Elaine Potter Richardson. After moving to the United States, Richardson ceased communication with her family and began to make a new life. In 1973, she changed her name to Jamaica Kincaid as a way of maintaining anonymity as she embarked upon a career as a writer.
- Despite having a troubled relationship, Kincaid views her mother as a source of influence on her writing. In an interview with Oprah.com, Kincaid stated, “I have a sense of destiny because of my mother, who was an extraordinary person but a terrible candidate for mother.” Her mother also helped to develop her passion for reading. By the age of 13, Kincaid had already read the entire Bible and the Oxford English Dictionary (a birthday gift from her mother) twice.
- Like other writers before her, Jamaica Kincaid has also experienced a “starving artist” phase. At one point, she was living in Manhattan where she slept on the floor on top of newspapers and only had a desk, typewriter and chair for furniture. Kincaid’s only goal was to make sure she was a good writer and this led her to become an acclaimed writer for The New Yorker magazine.
- After taking on the name Jamaica Kincaid, she began regularly submitting articles to The New Yorker where she got her start and became a staff writer in 1976. Her pieces typically depicted Caribbean culture and were published in other magazines as well. In 1983 Kincaid published her first book, At the Bottom of the River, which was a collection of short stories and reflections.
Jamaica Kincaid went on to publish many other books including Annie John, My Brother and See Now Then. Kincaid now spends her time in her Vermont home or with students as the Professor of African and African American Studies in Residence at Harvard University.