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Jamaica Kincaid, Caribbean-American author, was born Elaine Potter Richardson on the small island of Antigua. She was born the eldest of four children into tropical poverty, the daughter of a carpenter and a housekeeper. When she was a child, Antigua was under British rule, and the only formal education available was in government schools. With a thirst for knowledge and escape, she stole books and read them in secret under the house.

Richardson left Antigua at the age of 16 to work as a babysitter for a family in Scarsdale, New York. While there she earned her high school diploma and took night classes at Westchester Community College. She later worked as an au pair on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. After working as an au pair for three years she briefly studied photography at the New School and took a secretarial position at Magnum Photos. Winning a full scholarship to Franconia College, she left New York for New Hampshire. However, she returned to New York after a year, supporting herself as a receptionist at an ad agency. She soon began writing interviews for a teen magazine and became Jamaica Kincaid in part to maintain anonymity in her writing. Her first piece of fiction, "Girl" was a liturgy of commands and criticisms in her mother's voice directed to her young daughter.

It was published in THE NEW YORKER magazine. She had pieces published in THE VILLAGE VOICE and INGENUE which the editor of THE NEW YORKER, William Shawn, noticed. He made her a staff writer in 1976. She published a collection of her short fiction in 1983 and has since published five novels. Her writings portray family relationships and her homeland, Antigua. One of her novels, MY BROTHER, is an account of her brother's death from AIDS.

Kincaid is married to Allen Shawn, the son of William Shawn, and they have two children, Annie and Harold.


CHRONOLOGY

1949 She was born in St. John's Antigua. (May 25)

1966 She moved to New York City.

1973 She took the name Jamaica Kincaid.

1976 She became a staff writer for THE NEW YORKER magazine.

1978 She published her first piece of fiction, "Girl," in THE NEW YORKER. (June 26)

1983 AT THE BOTTOM OF THE RIVER was published.

1984 ANNIE JOHN was published.

1988 A SMALL PLACE was published.

1990 LUCY was published.

1996 THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MY MOTHER was published.

1997 MY BROTHER was published.