Derek Walcott was born a twin on January 23, 1930 in Saint Lucia. While his father died when he was very young, his mother, a teacher, instilled a love of literacy in him, his brother, and sister. She recited poems to him at home, and she loved the arts. His father had also been a lover of the arts, having been a painter and poet.
Much of Walcott's inspiration comes from the history of St. Lucia, both colonialism and post-colonialism. He also infiltrates the theme of spirituality in his poems. His first poem was published in a St. Lucian newspaper, The Voice of St. Lucia, when he was fourteen. A few years later, Walcott borrowed money from his mother to self-publish his first collection of poems. By age nineteen, Walcott self-published two books of poems.
After studying the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Walcott moved to Trinidad in 1953 where he became a critic, teacher, and journalist. He then taught literature and writing at Boston University. While there, he founded Boston's Playwrights' Theatre in 1981. In 2010 he took a job at the University of Essex as a professor of poetry.
In 1992 Walcott became the first Caribbean writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Walcott has become known as a poet and playwright, one with an extensive list of published works. He has also received various literary awards such as:
- Obie Award 1971
- MacArthur Foundation "genius" award
- Royal Society of Literature Award
- Queen's Medal for Poetry
- 2011 T.S. Eliot Prize