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BIOGRAPHICAL  NOTE: MICHAEL ANTHONY (D.LITT)
03 April 2017

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: MICHAEL ANTHONY (D.LITT)

Michael Anthony was born at Mayaro on February 10, 1930. From infancy he fell in love with literature through nursery rhymes and children’s poems and he made up his mind to try to be a writer.

He attended Mayaro R.C. School and at eleven he was sent to San Fernando to live with a family, following the death of his father and the resulting hardship at his home. He spent one complete year in San Fernando, from New Year’s Day 1941 to Christmas that year, and described this little period in the novel - “The Year in San Fernando.” He returned to school in Mayaro as the year 1942 opened but went to San Fernando again in September 1944, having won a bursary to the Junior Technical School of San Fernando.

Despite going to the Technical School, which prepared its students for the technical life such as working in machine shops, et cetera, his love for literature did not wane. A few years after the completion of his apprenticeship at the Pointe-a-Pierre oil refinery he left for England with the hope of becoming a writer. That year was 1954.

The dream of becoming a writer was first realized in full in 1963 with the publication of his first novel, “The Games were Coming.” Between 1954 and 1963 he had written short stories broadcast over the BBC in its programme, Caribbean Voices. In 1965 he published “The Year in San Fernando,” and in 1967 he published “Green Days by the River.”

In that same year, 1967, he fell ill and was advised to return home to avoid the cold climate. However when he left England, in 1968, he went to Brazil, mainly due to Brazilian friends he met in London.

He spent two truly enjoyable years in Brazil, most of that time working at the Trinidad and Tobago Embassy in Rio de Janiero, and at the same time learning the language of Brazil, Portuguese. His family — wife and three children — were with him there, and a daughter, Sandra, was born there. In 1970 he decided to return to Trinidad after some contacts with the Trinidad Guardian.

Of course 1970 was a year of great unrest  in Trinidad, being the year of the Black Power riots and it did not prove easy settling down. Before resuming his writing he worked at the Trinidad Guardian, and by the end of that year 1970 he was offered a post at Texaco, the former Trinidad Leaseholds Limited, where he had served his apprenticeship. But two years after accepting this post the National Cultural Council was formed and he was brought into this Council as a “Writer” by the Government of the day.

The decade 1972 to 1982 was a decade of quiet as compared to the previous years and he was able to produce eight books in this period, “Profile Trinidad,” “Glimpses of Trinidad and Tobago,” “The Making of Port-of-Spain,” “Cricket in the Road,” “Folk Tales and Fantasies,” “King of the Masquerade,” “Streets of Conflict,” which is set in Brazil; and “All that Glitters.”

The rest of the 1980s saw further works such as “Port-of-Spain in a World at War” and “First in Trinidad,” and also the constitutional history “A Better and Brighter Day,” and the geo-historical “Towns and Villages  of Trinidad and Tobago.”

In the 1990s his works included  “A Historical Dictionary of Trinidad and Tobago,” as well as a study of the Carnivals of Trinidad and Tobago.

In the new century his work included the novels ˙“High tide of Intrigue,” and “Butler to the Final Bell,” and “Anaparima,” a history of San Fernando and surroundings. His “Builders of the Nation” was published for Independence in 2012, and then the great floods suffered by the people of  Diego Martin that year led  him to write a novel of house-breaking, burglary, detection and escape called “The Briefcase.”  Just before this he published the first volume of “Trinidad and Tobago in the Twentieth Century.”

A serious motorcar accident he suffered in 2009 curtailed his literary activities but he has since written a second volume of “Trinidad and Tobago in the Twentieth Century.” He wants to launch this book in April or May this year.

After this book he wants to do an autobiography being 87 years old and wanting to close off everything. With this last volume of history he will have written 35 books.

(In 1979 he was awarded a Humming Bird Medal and in 2003 he was awarded a Doctorate from the University of the West Indies). The University of Trinidad and Tobago made a “Distinguished Person” award to him in 2016 and in 2012 he was presented with a Life Time Literary Award from the National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS).


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