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LORD LEARIE CONSTANTINE

1902- 1971

cricketer, politician, statesman


Learie Nicholas Constantine was born in Diego Martin in Trinidad on September 21st, 1901 and grew up in Maraval, Diego Martin and St Ann's.


He is believed to have made his acquaintance with cricket at the age of five, mainly because his father was himself a cricketer. He showed considerable potential with both bat and ball as well as in fielding. 


On the 1923 tour of England, Learie was chosen as one of the talented youngsters.


When the West Indies team toured England in 1928 for the very first West Indies Test Series, he was again selected. He achieved a double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets on the tour but did not shine in the Test matches. 


He did shine, however, in a three-day game against Middlesex on the 1928 tour of England and became a cricket superstar with fans everywhere. Middlesex batted first and scored 352 for 6. Constantine went to the wicket when the score was 79 for 5. In twenty minutes he had scored 50 and top scored with 86. The West Indies made 230. No other batsman before Constantine had taken 7 for 57. This included a spell of 6 for 11 in 6 overs.


The Second World War began in 1939 as the West Indies were playing a series against England. Most players returned home but Constantine remained in England.


Learie Constantine worked as a welfare officer among West Indians in Liverpool. Blessed with a pleasant personality, he was sincere and effective. He was able to empathize with his fellow West Indians. Once refused accommodation at a hotel in London because he was a black man, he successfully sued the hotel.


He studied law and became a member of the bar. He returned home in the mid- 1950s and entered politics as a member of the People's National Movement of Dr Eric Williams. He was made Minister of Works and Transport when the PNM won the 1956 general elections in Trinidad.


Learie returned to cricket as a  broadcaster and was well known by the Queen's Park Oval crowd.


He was back in England in 1962 as High Commissioner to London when Trinidad and Tobago became independent. Later he was knighted for his services in social and charitable work in Great Britain. In 1969, he was made Lord Constantine, Baron of Maraval and Nelson and was introduced by the Duke of Norfolk as the newest member to the House of Lords in London.


In 1971, Constantine developed a bout of bronchitis and died on July 1 that year, ending a  partnership of 44 years with his wife, whom he had married as Norma Cox in July 1927. His body was returned to Trinidad for a state funeral at Arouca.




SIR V. S. NAIPAUL


Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, today regarded as one of the finest writers in the English language, was born in 1932 into a Hindu family at Chaguanas, close to the Port of Spain on Trinidad. His grandfather worked on a sugar estate and his father was a journalist and writer. 


 V. S. Naipaul was educated at Queen’s Royal College in Trinidad, then at age 18 he went to University College, Oxford, in England, where he read English. He was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1953. 


His works consist mainly of novels, short stories, and travel books but also include some that are documentary. His earliest books were based on events Trinidad. His first published work was The Mystic Masseur (1957). Other early works were Miguel Street (1959), was followed by what is regarded by many to be one of his most outstanding novels, A House for Mr. Biswas (1961). The protagonist in A House for Mr. Biswas is modeled on the author’s father. It was an enormous success. 


Naipaul has lived in England since he left Trinidad and has devoted himself to writing, apart from a few years in the mid 1950s, when he was employed by the BBC as a free-lance journalist.  


Among the literary prizes he has been awarded are the Booker Prize (1971) and T.S. Eliot Award for Creative Writing (1986).  In 1990, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth. In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.






TRINIDAD PERSONALITIES