[Caribbean Literature]

A Brief Biography of Wilson Harris

David P. Lichtenstein '99, Brown University, Contributing Editor, Caribbean Web

Wilson Harris was born on March 24, 1921, in New Amsterdam, British Guiana-- now known simply as Guyana. And although he immigrated to England in 1959, the Guyanese landscape, with its attendant physical and historical contexts, still dominates his fiction. Harris attended Queen's College in Georgetown, British Guiana, and later served as a government surveyor before moving on to his more permanent professions of lecturer and writer, during which he has produced a voluminous amount of work.

Harris's writing style has forced itself into many an academic debate, the subject of much controversy for its departure from accepted norms of style. By literally infusing his writing with his common themes of transcendence of fixed cultural, historical, or psychological boundaries, Harris has created a fascinating, challenging, and yet at times completely alienating body of work. Guyana's rich interior and history of conquest which has brought diversity (though divided along lines of oppressor and victim) consistently forms the backdrop for his heavily metaphoric writing. Ultimately Harris seeks to provide a new Caribbean vision in which existing borders separating black and white, colonizer and colonized, even past and present, give way to a new community based on the wealth of heterogeneity. See my essay on Harris's experimental techniques in Palace of the Peacock for more information.


Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Edited by H. May and J.G. Lesniak. Detroit: Gale Research, 1989, Volume 27.

[Caribbean] [Wilson Harris] Works