St Lucia’s 2 Nobel Laureates
were both born on 23rd January !
Derek Walcott – Nobel Prize for Literature 1992
Derek Walcott was born on 23rd January 1930 in the town of Castries in Saint Lucia. The experience of growing up in St Lucia had a strong influence on Walcott’s life and work. Both his grandmothers were said to have been the descendants of slaves. His father, a Bohemian watercolourist, died when Derek and his twin brother, Roderick, were only a few years old. His mother ran the town’s Methodist school. After studying at St. Mary’s College in his native island and at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Walcott moved in 1953 to Trinidad, where he worked as theatre and art critic. At the age of 18, he made his debut with 25 Poems, but his breakthrough came with the collection of poems, In a Green Night (1962). In 1959, he founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop which produced many of his early plays.
Walcott has been an assiduous traveller to other countries, but has always felt himself deeply-rooted in Caribbean society with its cultural fusion of African, Asiatic and European elements. For many years, he has divided his time between Trinidad, where he has his home as a writer, and Boston University, where he teaches literature and creative writing.
Derek Walcott was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992
Sir Arthur Lewis – Nobel Prize for Economics 1979
Sir Arthur Lewis was born on 23rd January, 1915. His parents were both school teachers who had immigrated to St Lucia from Antigua.
When he was seven Sir Arthur had to stay home for several weeks because of some ailment, whereupon his father elected to teach him so that he would not fall behind. In fact, he taught Sir Arthur in three months as much as the school taught in two years, so, on returning to school, Sir Arthur was shifted from grade 4 to grade 6.
Sadly his father died when he was seven, leaving a widow and five sons. His mother was a very highly-disciplined and hard working person. At age 14 having completed the curriculum Sir Arthur left school and went to work as a clerk in the civil service. Eventually he went to study at the London School of Economics (LSE), to do the Bachelor of Commerce degree which offered accounting, business management, commercial law and a little economics and statistics. In 1937 with first class honours, LSE gave him a scholarship to do a Ph.D. in Industrial Economics. Then in 1948, at 33, he was made a full professor at the University of Manchester. Later he would gain a full professorship at Princeton University.
For 4 years Sir Arthur was in Barbados setting up the Caribbean Development Bank. Returning to Princeton in 1974, he finally published in 1978 his world famous account of growth and fluctuations in the world economy covering the period between 1870 and 1914.
Sir Arthur was married to Gladys, a Grenadian lady. Her father, who was an Antiguan, had known Sir Arthur’s parents all their lives. Gladys went to England in 1937 and trained as a teacher. They married in 1947 and have two daughters, Elizabeth and Barbara. Throughout his life Sir Arthur’s travels meant much separation, but mutual love supported the family in all its endeavours. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1979, Knighted in 1963, sadly Sir Arthur died in 1991.
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