His Life

Thomas Henry “Tom Redcam” MacDermot was born in Arthurs Seat, Clarendon, Jamaica on June 26, 1870 to the Reverend H.C.P. MacDermot (1832-1875) and his wife Mary Windsor Rutty (1824-1917). He was of Irish ancestry.

Thomas MacDermot was a Jamaican poet, novelist and editor, editing the Jamaica Times for more than 20 years. He was "probably the first Jamaican writer to assert the claim of the West Indies to a distinctive place within English-speaking culture". He also published under the pseudonym Tom Redcam (derived from his surname spelled in reverse). He was Jamaica's first Poet Laureate from 1910 to 1933.

Growing Up

Thomas Henry MacDermot spent much of his childhood in Trelawny. He was educated at the Falmouth Academy and at the Church of England Grammar School in Kingston, Jamaica. He was a teacher before taking up journalism, at The Jamaica Post, The Daily Gleaner and the Jamaica Times, of which he was editor for 20 years. He worked to promote Jamaican literature through all of his writing, starting a weekly short story contest in the Jamaica Times in 1899. Notable among the young writers he helped and encouraged are Claude McKay and H.G. de Lisser.

MacDermot retired because of illness in 1922. He died in London in an English nursing home on October 08, 1933, aged 63.

His Works

In 1903, MacDermot started the All Jamaica Library, a series of novellas and short stories written by Jamaicans about Jamaica that were reasonably priced to encourage local readers. Alongside his work as a journalist, he wrote two novels. The first, Becka’s Buckra Baby, is said to mark the beginning of modern Caribbean writing. MacDermot's poems were not collected into a single volume until 1951. He was posthumously proclaimed Jamaica's first Poet Laureate for the period 1910-33 by the Jamaican branch of the Poetry League.

Select Publications



  • Brown's Town Ballads and other poems
  • By Benbow's grave. (1913)
  • How Britain got her West Indies (1929)
  • The King's dominion of the islands major and minor West Indian notes. (1916)
  • One Brown Girl and --; a Jamaica story. (1909)
  • Orange Valley, and other poems. (1951)
  • Our West Indian colonies (1919)