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Walrond, Eric Derwent

Walrond, Eric Derwent

1898
1966


The writer Eric Walrond was born in Georgetown, British Guiana. He immigrated to Barbados in 1906, and in 1910 he left for the Panama Canal Zone, where he worked as a clerk for the health department of the Panama Canal Commission. From 1916 to 1918 he worked as a reporter and sportswriter for the Panama Star and Herald. In 1918 Walrond moved to New York, where he attended the College of the City of New York until 1921. During this time he also worked as an associate editor of Marcus Garvey's Negro World. Walrond soon broke with Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association, and he eventually became one of its chief African-American critics. From 1922 to 1924 Walrond took writing classes at Columbia University. He contributed fiction and nonfiction to magazines such as the New Republic, the Messenger, Vanity Fair, and the New Age. His short story "The Palm Porch" was included in the well-known 1925 anthology edited by Alain Locke, The New Negro.

From 1925 to 1927 Walrond served as the business manager for the Urban League's Opportunity: Journal of Negro Life. He also published a critically acclaimed collection of short stories, Tropic Death (1926), about life in Barbados, the Canal Zone, and British Guiana. Using native dialects and an impressionistic style, Walrond addressed the problems of physical suffering and discrimination facing African Americans in the tropics. His work was anthologized in The American Caravan (1927).

In 1928 Walrond received a Guggenheim Fellowship and became a Zona Gale scholar at the University of Wisconsin. That same year he moved to Europe. Although Walrond had been considered one of the brightest young voices of the Harlem Renaissance, when interest in black literature waned in the 1930s, he disappeared from American literary life. In the late 1930s, when Walrond and Garvey were both living in London, the two grew close again, and Walrond contributed to a Garveyite magazine, Black Man. His contributions included a short story and articles that dealt with American literature and politics. Thereafter, Walrond virtually ceased writing. He traveled throughout Europe, and lived for several years in France before settling again in London. He was at work on a novel set in the Panama Canal region when he died in England in 1966.

See also Negro World ; Garvey, Marcus

Bibliography

Beckman, Wendy Hart. Artists and Writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Berkeley Heights, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, 2002.

Martin, Tony. Literary Garveyism: Black Arts and the Harlem Renaissance. Dover, Mass.: Majority Press, 1983.

jonathan gill (1996)
Updated bibliography

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