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Selwyn Cudjoe

Cyril Lionel Robert James (1901–1989), eminent pan-Africanist and one of the most original Marxist thinkers to emerge from the Western hemisphere, was born in Tunapuna, Trinidad. He was named after his father, Robert James, the principal of several outstanding primary schools in the island. Robert’s nephew Cyril Austin, who lived with the James family for many years, observed that Robert “reveled in everything that lifted the human mind; that is, everything that was Victorian. He dabbled in the arts, the liberal arts, music and dancing.” Young James attended Arima Government School, from which he won a government scholarship to go to Queen’s Royal College (QRC), the leading high school on the island. After he completed his studies at QRC, he was offered a teaching position where, among others, he taught Eric Williams, author of Capitalism and Slavery and former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Each night ...

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Erin D. Somerville

Trinidadian historian, novelist, philosopher, and cricket fan credited with extending Marxist philosophy to black politics. Cyril Lionel Robert James was born in Tunapuna, Trinidad, to Robert, a rural schoolteacher and son of a sugar plantation worker, and Bessie, an avid reader. James won an exhibition to Trinidad's Queen's Royal College at the age of 9 and taught history at the College after graduation. Teaching was coupled with a semi‐professional cricket career and the publication of two early novels, La Divina Pastora (1927) and Triumph (1929).

At the age of 31 James immigrated to England to pursue a career as a novelist. The Trinidadian cricketer Learie Constantine, with whom James lived in Lancashire after a short stay in London, aided his move. James's bond with Constantine was encouraged by a mutual interest in West Indian independence, which climaxed in the publication of The Case for West ...

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Christopher Phelps

revolutionary socialist writer, was born Cyril Lionel Robert James in the village of Caroni on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, a British colony, to Robert Alexander James, a schoolteacher and principal of modest means, and Ida Elizabeth (“Bessie”) James, a devout Anglican and avid reader of English literature. His parents nicknamed him “Nello,” a name later used among friends. His earliest education took place under his strict father in a tiny schoolhouse in North Trace. At age nine James won a scholarship to Queen's Royal College (QRC), the island's best school, in the capital, Port of Spain. At QRC between 1911 and 1918 James indulged his love for the game of cricket and English novels (Thackeray'sVanity Fair was a particular favorite to the detriment of his grades His teachers as had his family impressed upon him the importance of proper manners and fair play ...

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Cyril Lionel Robert James was born into an educated family in Tunapuna, in colonial Trinidad. At the age of nine, James earned a scholarship to Queen's Royal College in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and graduated in 1918. He taught English and history at that college and later taught at the Government Training College for Teachers. During this time he met Alfred Mendes, who with James led an informal group of young intellectuals. James began writing and developing his political and literary ideas with this group. In 1927 his short story “La Divina Pastora” was published by the British Saturday Review of Literature, a significant achievement for both James and Caribbean literature. “La Divina Pastora,” in which a Cocoa worker pleads with her patron saint for help with her romantic life, was notable for its clear portrayal of the rural poor.

James and Mendes founded and ...