Victor Reid

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Born on the 1st of May 1913 in Kingston, Jamaica to parents Alexander and Margaret Reid, Victor grew up and attended school in Jamaica, graduating from Kingston Technical High school in 1929.

He was awarded the silver and gold Musgrave Medals (1955–1978), the Order of Jamaica (1980) and the Norman Manley Award for Excellence in Literature in 1981. Because of accomplishment in literature, his early life was affluent. In 1935, he married his wife Monica and they had four children.

 

He held several posts in the Jamaican government, including Chairman of the Jamaica National Trust Commission, and was a Trustee of the Historic Foundation Research Centre in Kingston.

 

His first novel, New Day (1949), chronicles the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865 and the series of events that led to the establishment of the new Jamaican constitution in 1944.

 

He found it was difficult to get it published, as his document was written in a different type of language, Creole; Reid had decided to introduce patois in order to disseminate young Jamaicans with black history as well as to encourage pride in their heritage.

 

He travelled a good deal in his young adulthood and sought his livelihood in advertising, journalism, farming, and the book trade before he came into the glare of publicity as a fiction writer. Reid’s novels focus on the freedom of black culture and describe the struggles of black people.

 

His works tend to focus primarily on the history, hopes, and powers of the Jamaican people. Through his writing, Reid wanted to break apart the “distortions of history” portrayed by the foreign press, which described Jamaican radicals as criminals. He wrote to prove the innocence of people who were rendered to be the opposite.

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Like many famous authors, he had difficulty getting his novel published. His breakthrough came when a group of magazine employees visiting Jamaica were struck by an article he had written in the national Gleaner News. Reid’s works have become standard text books for black studies in Jamaica, the Caribbean, England and North America. 

 

Reid achieved his first publication soon after, which exposed him to the world of literature. His next big break came when he began working as an editor for the Spotlight News Magazine and the Toronto Star. His second novel to be published was Sixty-Five, which also chronicled the Morant Bay Rebellion, but in a softer, less vigorous way.

 

After publishing several well received novels, Reid’s focus transferred to writing novels for school-aged children, in the hope of educating Jamaica’s younger generation. He wrote several children’s novels, the best known of which include The Young Warriors (1967), Peter of Mount Ephraim (1971), and The Jamaican (1976).

 

His final work was a biography of the Jamaican national hero Norman Manley, entitled The Horses of the Morning (1985).Although novels comprised the bulk of Reid’s literary body of work, he was also the author of several stories, collected in Fourteen Jamaican Short Stories (1950), and a play entitled Waterford Bar (1959). He died August 25, 1987 at age 74.