Place of birth
National identity

Roger Mais

Short biography
Roger Mais was born into a comfortable, educated middle-class Jamaican family, spending his boyhood in the Blue Mountains region where his father took up farming. For the earliest part of his childhood he was taught at home and received a thorough grounding in the Bible, whose language and cadences are heard in his work. He entered Calabar High School in Kingston, but made little use of the Cambride certificate he obtained. From the age of 17 to his 30s he earned his living in a variety of jobs, office work, selling insurance, overseer on a banana plantation and as a reporter-photographer and a variety of other journalistic occupations.

"In the early 1930s Mais began writing verse and short stories, and later a number of plays. He was swept up in the riots and workers rebellion of 1938, and thereafter was a wholly committed supporter and activist involved with the PNP and Jamaican nationalism. His essays and short stories, mostly published in Public Opinion, were the literary adjunct to Edna Manley's discovery of an upsurgent anti-colonial Jamaican spirit in sculpture. He published two collections of stories, Face and Other Stories, and And Most of All Man in 1942. He began painting around this time. His critique of Churchill's imperialist ideology, 'Now We Know' brought Mais to court and he was sentenced to six months in prison for sedition. His experience fed into his first published novel. He wrote further unpublished novels and plays before finding a publisher for , The Hills Were Joyful Together in 1951, followed by Brother Man in 1954 and Black Lightning in 1955.

He left Jamaica for the UK in 1952, but whilst in France in 1954 discovered that he had terminal cancer. He returned to Jamaica, attempted to finish a fourth novel, but died before its completion in 1955."