The Autobiography of Alfred H. Mendes 1897-1991

By Michèle Levy; Alfred H. Mendes | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

WRITING — TRINIDAD, 1931-1933

Our magazine, Trinidad, was published and edited by James and me. There were only two numbers, the first late in 1929, the other in 1930, but they were certainly landmarks in the birth of West Indian literature. The measure of the quality of the short stories in both numbers is best reflected in, first, the listings in E. J. O'Brien's Best Short Stories of 1929 and Best Short Stories of 1930 of five titles published in the two numbers, 1 and secondly in a letter we received from Aldous Huxley commending the stories in quite flattering terms. Our best literary "find" was R. A. C. de Boissière, a young coloured man who came from an illegitimate branch of the aristocratic family of the same name. His talent was genuine. All of his fiction had a delicate lyrical touch and his delineation of character was sure and precise. He later emigrated to Australia and there published two novels. 2

One day James came to me and confided that he was in a money jam: could I help him in any way other than cash? I immediately suggested a magazine under our joint editorship: the advertisements could bring in tidy returns which, after meeting the cost of the magazine, could leave a substantial net profit for him, as I did not wish to share any of it. This was how Trinidad made its first appearance. The second number was launched without James's name as an editor, but this did not preclude his putting as much work into the second as he did into the first.

In the light of James's political activities as a Trotskyite Revolutionary after he emigrated from Trinidad to England in 1932, his apparent lack

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