Jan Carew was born in 1920 in the village of Agricola in Berbice, Guyana. When he left Guyana in 1945 to pursue his education he began what he described as 'endless journeyings' that involved periods in the UK, North and South America, Africa and Asia.
He lived in Jamaica between 1962-66 with his then wife Sylvia Wynter, moving to Canada for some years before settling in the USA. He taught at Northwestern University and at Princeton and was at the heart of developments in African American studies.
His first novel, Black Midas was published in 1958, The Wild Coast in 1960, both set in Guyana. The Last Barbarian, set in Harlem, USA was published in 1960, and Moscow is Not My Mecca (1964) took a Caribbean student to disillusion in Soviet Russia.
Jan Carew has written several books for children, a number of plays, and a collection of poems. In his retirement to Kentucky, Jan Carew has resumed his old love of painting.