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David Dabydeen

David Dabydeen was born on a sugar estate in Berbice, Guyana in 1957. He is currently Professor at the Centre for Caribbean Studies, University of Warwick and was for some years a roving ambassador for Guyana. His poetry first came to attention in 1978 when poems later published in Slave Song won the Quiller-Couch prize. Slave Song, which was published by Dangaroo in 1984, won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize. Turner - New and Selected Poetry (Cape, 1994) and republished by Peepal Tree in 2002, returns to the subject of slavery and restores to the foreground the drowning figure of the slave in JWM Turner’s painting, ‘Slavers’. His first novel, The Intended (1991) draws both on memories of a Guyanese childhood and of fending for himself in immigrant London before going to Cambridge. Disappearance (1993) is about a Guyanese engineer working on a cliff reclamation project in rural Kent. The Counting House (1996) is an historical novel set in India and British Guiana in the earliest days of indenture, and deals with the meeting of African and Indian within the corrupting commerce of the sugar plantation. In A Harlot’s Progress (1999) Dabydeen echoes the method of ‘Turner’ by taking the black slave boy from Hogarth’s A Harlot’s Progress and inventing a biography for him. In 1997, Peepal Tree published The Art of David Dabydeen, ed. Kevin Grant, the first assessment of his work.
 
 
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