Margaret Cezair-Thompson was born in Jamaica, West Indies; she attended St Andrews High School for
Girls, a long-established government-subsidized school that has produced many of
Jamaican's most prominent women. She also spent a year at a Roman Catholic
boarding school in the countryside called Servite Convent of the Assumption
School for Girlswhich was a bit like the school she describes Ida as attending
in The Pirate's Daughter. She was expelled after a year and
returned happily to St Andrews.
She came of age as Jamaica emerged from being a British colony to being an independent nation. She left Jamaica at nineteen years old to attend Barnard College in New York where she received a B.A. in English. She received her Ph.D. in English from the City University of New York with a dissertation on V.S. Naipaul. Since 1990, she has taught literature and creative writing at Wellesley College.
Her son was born in 1999, the same year that her first book, The True History of Paradise, was published. She's also published short fiction, essays, reviews, and interviews in various magazines. Her first screenplay, Photo Finish, about a Jamaican-American athlete, was sold to Oprah Winfreys Harpo Productions in 1994 (now Harpo-Disney). The True History of Paradise was selected as one of six finalists for the Dublin International IMPAC Award.
Her interests include movies, Victorian and Modern British fiction and poetry, Caribbean and British colonial history, postcolonial literature and film (especially related to the Caribbean and Africa), and Jamaican music. The authors she returns to again and again are Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, Thomas Hardy, Paule Marshall, Ben Okri, Jean Rhys, William Shakespeare (especially the tragedies), Joyces Dubliners, Thackerays Vanity Fair, Conrads Heart of Darkness, Yeats, Wallace Stevens, and the King James Bible.
She currently lives in Massachusetts.
Margaret Cezair-Thompson's website
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Why did you want to write about Errol Flynn?
It wasn't so much that I wanted to write about Errol Flynn but rather that once I came upon the setting and early images, he presented himself as a person who had been there at that time. Then a number of things fell into place in my mind: stories I'd heard about him when I was growing up in Jamaica, all that he symbolized, and the challenge of recreating him, not only as Hollywood icon but as a human with human weaknesses and hopes.
How did you research Flynns life? What sources did you use?
I read one or two books about him and also his own autobiography. I spoke to people who had known him and/or who remembered the time he lived in Jamaica. I watched his films countless times including the film he made that was set partly in Jamaica (Cruise of the Zaca).
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It will sound strange but I feel like Ive gotten to know him, that Ive lived close to him these past few years. My son has, in a sense, grown up with Errol Flynn in our home his pictures, his movies pirates, sea captains, Robin Hood. What Ive come to know is a man who made mistakes, who ...
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