DAVID DABYDEEN

CHAMPIONS

Scholar David Dabydeen’s long list of achievements include award-winning novelist, poet and broadcaster

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Born in Berbice, British Guiana, in 1955, Professor David Dabydeen can trace his heritage to indentured labourers from India. A bright child, he won a scholarship to the prestigious Queen’s College in Georgetown but at the age of 13 travelled to the UK to live with his father, a lawyer.

He went on to read English at Cambridge University, gained a doctorate at University College London in 1982 and was awarded a research fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford.
He is currently professorial fellow in the office of the vice-chancellor at the University of Warwick, having already served as director of the Centre of Caribbean Studies and professor of postcolonial literature, which he held between 1984 and 2017.

David is also an author and a poet. His collection of poems, Slave Song, won the 1984 Commonwealth Poetry Prize and the Quiller-Couch Prize. Turner, a new collection, was published in 2002.

The first of his four novels, The Intended (1991), drew on his childhood experiences and his life as a newly arrived migrant in London, winning him the Guyanese Prize for Literature. Disappearance and The Counting House followed in quick succession. The new millennium saw him publish Our Lady of Demerara (2004), which also won the Guyanese Prize for Literature, Molly and the Muslim Stick (2008) and Johnson’s Dictionary (2013).

His non-fiction works include Hogarth’s Blacks: Images of Blacks in Eighteenth Century Art (1987), a critical exploration of William Hogarth’s representations of black people in the 18th century. In his novel A Harlot’s Progress (1999) he gave a literary treatment of this work, where he creates a biography for the young enslaved black boy featured in Hogarth’s pictorial narrative.

In 2007, he co-edited the Oxford Companion to Black British History with Cecily Jones and John Gilmore. David is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the recipient of the Raja Rao Prize for his contribution to the literature of the Indian diaspora.

In 1993 he became a member of Unesco’s executive, in 1997 serving as an ambassador for three years. In 2010 he was appointed Guyana’s envoy to China, a post he held for five years.
David has also worked in TV and radio, and among his broadcasts is The Forgotten Colony for BBC domestic radio, which explored Guyana’s history.

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