Anglo-Caribbean writer and poet Edward Archibald Markham, 'Archie' to his friends and colleagues, was born in Harris, Montserrat on 1st October 1939. Raised by his grandmother in the Caribbean after his parent's marriage ended, and following her death he moved to the UK with his mother and elder brothers in 1956.
His academic career began at St Davids College, Lampeter where he read English and Philosophy between 1962-1965, and later moving from here to the University of East Anglia to undertake further research. His first teaching post was at Kilburn Polytechnic and he later went on to hold writing fellowships in Hull (1978-79) as a Creative Writing Fellow of Hull College of Higher Education, in Brent, London (1979-80) as the recipient of the C. Day-Lewis Fellowship, at Ipswich in 1986, and at the University of Ulster as a writer-in-residence between 1988-1991. After leaving Ulster he was appointed as a tutor in the English department of Sheffield Hallam University, becoming Professor of Creative Writing in 1997, and remaining at Sheffield Hallam until his retirement in 2005 when he was made an Emeritus Professor. In addition to these posts, he was appointed an external examiner at a number of universities. He was also invited to be a guest tutor on a number of poetry and creative writing courses, including those held at The Poetry School.
Although based in England, Markham moved around regularly, spending time in many countries including the Caribbean (1970s), France (1970s), Germany and Sweden (1970s), and Papua New Guinea (1980s). In 1969 he formed the 'Caribbean Theatre Troupe' which toured Montserrat, Saint Vincent, and the Eastern Caribbean during the period 1971-1972. With James Berry he founded the 'Bluefoot Travellers' in 1972 contributing to the 1970s revival of poetry reading. He then spent two years with the Cooperative Ouvriere du Batiment restoring houses in the South of France 1972-1974. As a volunteer with Voluntary Service Overseas, Markham spent the period 1983-1985 as a media co-ordinator at the Department of Information, Enga Province, Papua New Guinea.
He returned to the UK in 1985 as editor of 'Artrage', a magazine published by the Minority Arts Advisory Service (MAAS). Whilst working at the University of Ulster, he was editor of 'Writing Ulster', the University's literary journal. Whilst working at Sheffield Hallam University, he served as editor of the University's magazine 'Sheffield Thursday', and was responsible for running the magazine's annual poetry and short story competition. He also served on the editorial boards of a number of publications including Ambit, Wasafiri, The Caribbean Writer, and Poetry London.
In addition to his work with MAAS, Markham was an active member of the Poetry Society, the Poetry Book Society, and was a trustee of The Poetry School. During the 1990s he was involved in the judging of various poetry competitions including the Dulwich Poetry Festival in 1997, was responsible for directing the biennial Hallam literature festival in 1997 and 1999, and was involved in various conferences and poetry recitals.
Over the years Markham was a subscriber to a large number of literary and arts journals and magazines. These included the Poetry Journal Quarterly, the Jamaica Arts Review, the Jamaica Journal, Race Today, Celtic Dawn, Savacou, Bikmaus, Ondobondo, Bananas. In addition he was a subscriber to the the Trinidad and Tobago Review and the Wisden Cricketer.
During the 1970s Markham wrote under a number of pseudonyms to enable the adoption and exploration of different voices and identities. As Paul St. Vincent he wrote as a young black male from Antigua now living in South London, creating the character 'Lambchops'. As Sally Goodman he wrote as a white Welsh female and created the feminist character 'Philpot', and as Peter Stapleton he created the very average academic Pewter Stapleton.
Noted for his poetry, some of Markham's best known work includes the Lambchops poems published under the pseudonym Paul St Vincent. His first collection of poetry 'Crossfire' was published in 1972, followed the year after by 'Mad and Other Poems'. He went on to publish several volumes of poetry, notably Love, Politics and Food (1982), Human Rites (1984), Living in disguise (1986), Towards the end of a century (1989), Letter from Ulster & The Hugo poems (1993), Misapprehensions (1995), A Rough Climate (2002), and Looking Out, Looking In (2008).
As an editor of poetry anthologies he is noted for his publication of Hinterland: Caribbean Poetry from the West Indies and Britain (1979) and The Penguin Book of Caribbean Short Stories (1996). He also edited various anthologies with others including The Ugandan Asian Anthology: Merely A Matter of Colour (1972) and Hugo versus Montserrat (1989).
In addition to his poetry, Markham was also noted for his short stories. A number of collections of his short stories were published including Something Unusual (1986), Ten Stories (1994), Marking Time (1999), and Taking the Drawing Room Through Customs: Selected Stories 1970-2000 (2002).
His interest in theatre led him to write a number of plays including Dropping Out is Violence, The Masterpiece, John Lewis & Co. (A little play with interludes), Between a Rock and a Hard Place (a play about Montserrat), and Severus of Enga.
Awards and Honours
In addition to the various academic fellowship awards received by Markham, the Government of Montserrat awarded him with the Certificate of Honour in 1997, his work 'A Rough Climate' (2002) was shortlisted for the T.S Elliot prize, and he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2003.
Following his retirement from Sheffield Hallam University in 2005, Markham relocated to Paris, where he later died of a heart attack on 23 March 2008.