Biography of Grace Nichols

Grace Nichols was born in Georgetown, Guyana in 1950. She grew up in a small village on the coast of Guyana until moving back to the city of Georgetown at eight. She went to college at the University of Guyana, and received a degree in communications. She worked in teaching and journalism before immigrating to the United Kingdom in 1977.

Throughout her expansive poetic career, Nichols has published several collections. Her Guyanese upbringing and culture influence her writing, which contains lyrical and rhythmic verse. Nichols has also authored one novel, Whole of a Morning Sky, based on her childhood experience living in Guyana during the 1960s fight for independence. Additionally, Nichols has written several books of poetry for children that draw upon African, Caribbean, and Native American folklore traditions.

Nichols has received many awards for her writing during her career. Her first collection of poetry, I is a Long Memoried Woman, won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1983. In 1986, she won the Arts Council Writer’s Award. In 1996, her anthology Sunris won the Guyana Poetry Prize. She also received the Cholmondeley Award in 2000. In 2007, she was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

In 2021, Nichols was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. The selection committee for the prize was chaired by poet laureate Simon Armitage.

She currently lives in England with her husband, poet John Agard.

Study Guides on Works by Grace Nichols

In 1987, a large storm hit England’s southern coast, where the poet Grace Nichols was living. This inspired her to write the poem “Hurricane Hits England,” in which a powerful storm sparks an epiphany for an unnamed speaker. Nichols characterizes...

"Island Man" is a poem by esteemed Guyanese-British author Grace Nichols, who was recently awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. “Island Man” was published in her 1984 book The Fat Black Woman’s Poems.

The poem describes a man who awakes...

“Praise Song for my Mother” was published in Grace Nichols’ first poetry collection I is a Long-Memoried Woman (1983). The anthology was awarded the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1983 and was adapted into a Channel 4 film and BBC radio play. The...