What women may do

‘What man has done women may do’. When Una Marson pronounced those words in 1928 she anticipated her own success as one of Jamaica’s most important feminist writers.

Becoming the country’s first magazine publisher at 21-years-old, Una went on a journey that would see her publish poetry, write plays, challenge racism and sexism in London and bring a black feminist’s sensibility to the male-centric black internationalist movement.

In 1933 she left Jamaica for England in a move inspired by her love for literature which she described as a, “. . . passionate longing for the land of Shakespeare, Milton, Tennyson, Keats, Shelley, Byron, Wordsworth”.

During her first period of living in London, between 1932 and 1936, Una joined the League of Coloured Peoples, editing and contributing poems to their journal “The Keys” and was a delegate to the twelfth Congress of the International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Legal Citizenship (a temporary collaborator to the League of Nations).

In 1938 she became an influential broadcaster, journalist and poet during the war, working as a full-time assistant on the BBC radio programme Calling the West Indies (and evolving it into the legendary Caribbean Voices) where she recognised the potential in transmitting literature that freely expressed the Caribbean cultural experience.


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