Grace Nichols

Grace Nichols FRSL (born 1950) is a Guyanese poet who moved to Britain in 1977, before which she worked as a teacher and journalist in Guyana. Her first collection, I is a Long-Memoried Woman (1983), won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize. In December 2021, she was announced as winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.

Grace Nichols

Born1950 (age 71–72)
OccupationPoet, teacher, journalist
Notable work
I is a Long-Memoried Woman (1983); Sunris (1996)
Spouse(s)John Agard
AwardsCommonwealth Poetry Prize; Guyana Poetry Prize; Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, 2021


Grace Nichols FRSL was born in Georgetown, Guyana, and lived in a small village on the country's coast[1] until her family moved to the city when she was eight years old.[2] She took a Diploma in Communications from the University of Guyana, and subsequently worked as a teacher (1967–70), as a journalist and in government information services,[3] before she immigrated to the United Kingdom in 1977.[4] Much of her poetry is characterised by Caribbean rhythms and culture, and influenced by Guyanese and Amerindian folklore.

Her first collection of poetry, I is a Long-Memoried Woman won the 1983 Commonwealth Poetry Prize, and in 1992 she featured in the anthology Daughters of Africa (edited by Margaret Busby).[3] Nichols has written several further books of poetry and a novel for adults, Whole of a Morning Sky, 1986. Her books for children include collections of short stories and poetry anthologies. Her latest work, of new and selected poems, is Startling the Flying Fish, 2006. Her poetry is featured in the AQA, WJEC (Welsh Joint Education Committee), and Edexcel English/English Literature IGCSE anthologies – meaning that many IGCSE students in the UK have studied her work. Her religion is Christianity after she was influenced by the UK's many religions and multi-cultural society.

She lives in Lewes, East Sussex,[3] with her partner, the Guyanese poet John Agard.[4]

Anthologise — annual poetry competition for schoolsEdit

In 2011 Nichols was a member of the first ever judging panel for a new schools poetry competition named "Anthologise", spearheaded by Poet Laureate Carol-Ann Duffy.[5] School students aged 11–18 from around the UK were invited to create and submit their own anthologies of published poetry. The first ever winners of Anthologise were the sixth form pupils of Monkton Combe School, Bath, with their anthology titled The Poetry of Earth is Never Dead.[5]


  • I is a Long-Memoried Woman, London: Karnak House, 1983 to 1984
  • The Fat Black Woman's Poems, London: Virago Press, 1984
  • A Dangerous Knowing: Four Black Women Poets (Barbara Burford, Gabriela Pearse, Grace Nichols, Jackie Kay), London: Sheba, 1985
  • Whole of a Morning Sky (novel), London: Virago, 1986
  • Over the River, 1986
  • Hurricane Hits England, 1987
  • Come into my Tropical Garden (poems), 1988
  • Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman (poems), 1989
  • Sunris (poems), London: Virago, 1996
  • Startling the Flying Fish, 2006
  • Picasso, I Want My Face Back, Bloodaxe Books, 2009
  • I Have Crossed an Ocean: Selected Poems, Bloodaxe, 2010
  • Island Man
  • The Insomnia Poems, 2017
  • Passport to Here and There, Bloodaxe, 2020



  1. ^ ""Grace Nichols", Literature, British Council". Archived from the original on 2015-11-15. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  2. ^ Grace Nichols profile at Curtis Brown.
  3. ^ a b c Margaret Busby (ed.), Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writings by Women of African Descent from the Ancient Egyptian to the Present, London: Vintage, 1993, p. 796.
  4. ^ a b Dawes, Kwame Senu Neville (2001). Talk yuh talk: interviews with Anglophone Caribbean poets. University of Virginia Press. p. 135. ISBN 9780813919461. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
  5. ^ a b "Anthologise - A national poetry anthology competition", Picador, 14 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Royal Society of Literature All Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Archived from the original on 5 March 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  7. ^ Knight, Lucy (2021-12-10). "Grace Nichols' 'pioneering voice' wins her Queen's gold medal for poetry". The Guardian. Retrieved 2021-12-10.

Further readingEdit

  • "Grace Nichols", "Writers and Their Work" Series, Sarah Lawson Welsh (Northcote Press & the British Council; 2007)