News Releases

Ian McDonald donates half century of literary work to The UWI’s Alma Jordan Library

For Release Upon Receipt - December 13, 2014

St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago – The University of the West Indies (UWI) is now the proud owner of close to 50 years of work by celebrated Caribbean writer, Ian McDonald. McDonald, renowned for his 1969 novel The Humming-Bird Tree and numerous collections of poetry, donated a collection comprised of his research, publication and professional activities to The UWI’s Alma Jordan Library on November 27.

McDonald is the quintessential “West Indian Man” who describes himself as “Trinidadian by birth, Guyanese by adoption and West Indian by conviction.” The donated works highlight his literary activities, sport writing and his involvement in the Guyanese sugar industry. Among the papers are correspondence, manuscripts of his work and those of other Caribbean writers, critical works, and files relevant to various aspects of his research. He also handed over over 100 of his unpublished poems to the library.

McDonald took the opportunity to express his deep appreciation that the collection was acquired by The UWI. The acquisition of this collection is a continuation of the long relationship that he has had with The UWI. He added “As a child I knew every corner of the grounds of the old Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture. As a boy this ground was where I played and the surrounding countryside was where I wandered with my friends. Where the University has now risen I remember doing so many things that became important in my life later on. I watched from under the College trees my first games of cricket. I played some of my first games of tennis on the College courts. And I remember so well sitting on the steps of what I believe is now the Administration building reading Derek Walcott’s first book of poems, a very slim volume called 25 Poems and, reading on those steps, I remember beginning to hunger to write.” The current site of his childhood home is a vacant lot adjacent to The UWI. He has also received an honorary doctorate from The UWI.

Speaking at the handover ceremony held at the Alma Jordan Library, Dr. Kusha Haraksingh, former Dean of the Faculty of Law, gave insight into McDonald’s work at both the Guyana Sugar Corporation and the Sugar Association of the Caribbean. Professor Kenneth Ramchand, the feature speaker gave an appreciation of Ian McDonald and spoke on the significance of this literary archive in studying the work of Ian McDonald.

This collection joins an excellent list of literary collections owned by the Alma Jordan Library including: Arthur Roberts (playwright 1930s), CLR James, Dennis Mahabir, Derek Walcott, Earl Lovelace, Eric Roach, Isaiah Boodhoo, Michael Anthony, Monique Roffey, and Sam Selvon. Persons interested in consulting any of these collections can contact the West Indiana and Special Collections Department at



About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)