Born on England’s cold and rocky Cornish coast, Edna Swithenbank Manley came to Jamaica in 1922. She travelled with her husband, Norman, her newborn son, a set of sculpting tools and an insatiable curiosity about the island of her mother’s birth. As the wife of a National Hero and mother to the island’s fifth prime minister, Edna’s life was inextricably linked with Jamaican politics. But she was destined to leave her own mark on her adopted country. Her legacy, much less easily defined, perhaps than either her husband’s or her son’s is firmly entrenched in the island’s art, in its sculpture and painting and poetry and prose. She has been named nothing less than the mother of Jamaica’s artistic soul.
Rachel Manley is an accomplished poet and the author of a non-fiction trilogy about her illustrious family, the Manleys of Jamaica. Manley has been honoured as a New York Public Library Fellow, a Pierre Berton Fellow, a Rockefeller Fellow (Bellagio), and a Bunting Fellow for Literature at Radcliffe College. She serves on the creative writing faculty at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has won Jamaica’s prestigious Centennial Medal for Poetry. Manley divides her time between Toronto and Jamaica and is working on a novel.
Slipstream: A Daughter Remembers
When Manley’s father, Michael Manley, three-term prime minister of Jamaica, succumbed to cancer in the late 1990s, she set out to write about his extraordinary life, and to come to terms with the particular complications of their relationship. The book is a moving tribute to the man who embraced vital yet radical social reform in the 1970s, as well as a poetic and unflinching testament to a country, and to the powerful bond that she and her father shared.
Drumblair: Memories of a Jamaican Childhood
Manley’s first memoir focuses on the lives of the grandparents who raised her in Jamaica: Edna Swithenbank Manley, a highly-respected sculptor and Norman Manley, the lawyer and politician who became prime minister when Jamaica gained full independence in 1962. Drumblair won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction.