Herbert’s Career: H. G. de Lisser and the Business of National Literature

  • Leah Reade Rosenberg

Abstract

Between 1913 and 1944, Herbert George de Lisser, a brown Jamaican who left school at the age of fourteen, was the single most powerful man in the world of Jamaican print media, political debate, and national literature. Having begun his career as a writer for the Jamaica Times, de Lisser served as editor of Jamaica’s most influential paper, the Daily Gleaner, from 1904 until his death in 1944. This position gave him a near monopoly on the manufacture of public opinion. His position as secretary of the Jamaica Imperial Association enhanced his political power. As secretary, he acted as a trade ambassador for Jamaican business interests in the United Kingdom.1 His support was critical to politicians; his condemnation could endanger even the governor’s power.2 While he often dismissed English officials as patently incompetent, he devoted most of his energy to furthering the interests of Jamaica’s business class and opposing working-class political and economic power.

Keywords

Sugar Income Assimilation Smoke Defend 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Walter Adolphe Roberts, Six Great Jamaicans (Kingston, Jamaica: Pioneer Press, 1952), 110–113Google Scholar
  2. Rhonda Cobham-Sander, “The Literary Side of H. G. de Lisser (1878–1944),” Jamaica Journal 17, no. 4 (1984–1985), 6Google Scholar
  3. James Carnegie, Some Aspects of Jamaica’s Politics: 1918–1937 (Kingston, Jamaica: Institute of Jamaica, 1973), 172–173.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    I am relying on Ramchand’s “Year by Year Bibliography,” which is incomplete, so the number 10 is approximate. See Kenneth Ramchand, The West Indian Novel and Its Background (London: Faber and Faber, 1970), 282–283.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    De Lisser changed the title to Jane’s Career when the novel was published in England in 1914 (Mervyn Morris, “H. G. de Lisser: The First Competent Caribbean Novelist in English,” Carib 1 [1979], 18).Google Scholar
  6. 23.
    De Lisser, Twentieth Century Jamaica (Kingston, Jamaica: Jamaica Times Printery, 1913), 6.Google Scholar
  7. 24.
    Sydney Olivier, White Capital and Coloured labour (London: Independent Labour Party, 1906).Google Scholar
  8. 26.
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  10. 33.
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  11. 34.
    De Lisser, “Duchess and Jamaica Ladies,” Planters’ Punch 2, no. 3 (1929), 1.Google Scholar
  12. 40.
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  16. 48.
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  19. 57.
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  20. 61.
    See de Lisser, Triumphant Squalitone (Kingston, Jamaica: Gleaner Company, 1916)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Leah Reade Rosenberg 2007

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  • Leah Reade Rosenberg

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