About James Berry
An Interview with James Berry
More About James Berry
James Berry was born in Jamaica and grew up in a coastal village, the fourth child in a family of six. At seventeen he left Jamaica and went to America as part of a wartime contract labour scheme. After four years, appalled at the way blacks were treated, he returned to his home village disillusioned and vowing never to leave again. However, the claustrophobic atmosphere of the small community drove him abroad once more and in 1948 he came to Britain.
In post-war London, after working by day, James took classes to educate himself at night. He trained to become a telegraphist which was his occupation for many years. ”The happiest day of my life was when I was made redundant. I thought to myself "I can write now!" James began to publish short stories and writing plays.
In 1976 he published Bluefoot Traveller, a book of black British poetry. Since his early days in this country, James has remained an active campaigner on the part of black people and has helped to promote young black writers in particular.
James Berry's ideas come from his own feelings, from reading and from observing people, places and things; also from listening to what people say and from the sounds of animals and music. When he is not writing books he can be found listening to music (jazz, reggae and Mozart), watching TV, reading or watching cricket.
He now lives in Brighton and divides his time between the UK and Jamaica. James Berry is now a celebrated author and has received the following awards:
Greater London Arts Association Fellowship – 1977
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National Poetry Competition Award – 1981
Grand Prix winner, Smarties Prize for A Thief in the Village – 1987
Signal Poetry Award for When I Dance – 1988
OBE for Services to Poetry – 1990
Society of Authors Cholmondeley Award for Poetry – 1991
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