Dabydeen was born in Berbice, Guyana, his birth registered at New Amsterdam Registrar of Births as David Horace Clarence Harilal Sookram and moved to London, England to rejoin his father, attorney David Harilal Sookram.
He read English at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, and was awarded a Bachelor of Arts with honours. He then gained a Ph.D. in 18th century literature and art at University College London in 1982, and was awarded a research fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford. He is a Professor at the Centre for British Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Warwick in Coventry, United Kingdom. He is a member of UNESCO's Executive Board. He is the author of four novels, three collections of poetry and several works of non-fiction and criticism. His first book, Slave Song (1984), a collection of poetry, won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize and the Quiller-Couch Prize. A new collection, Turner, was published in 2002.
His first novel, The Intended (1991), the story of a young Asian student abandoned in London by his father, won the Guyana Prize for Literature. Disappearance (1993) tells the story of a young Guyanese engineer working on the south coast of England who lodges with an elderly woman. The Counting House (1996) is set at the end of the nineteenth century and narrates the experiences of an Indian couple whose hopes of a new life in colonial Guyana end in tragedy. The story explores historical tensions between indentured Indian workers and Guyanese of African descent. His most recent novel, A Harlot's Progress (1999), is based on a series of pictures painted by William Hogarth in 1732 and develops the story of Hogarth's black slave boy. Through the character of Mungo, Dabydeen challenges traditional cultural representations of the slave.
Dabydeen has been awarded the title of fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He is the second West Indian writer (V.S. Naipaul was the first) and the only Guyanese writer to receive the title.
In 2001 Dabydeen wrote and presented The Forgotten Colony, a BBC Radio 4 programme exploring the history of Guyana. His one-hour documentary Painting the People was broadcast by BBC television in 2004.
David Dabydeen's latest novel Our Lady of Demerara was published in 2004. The Oxford Companion to Black British History (co-edited by Dabydeen, John Gilmore and Cecily Jones) appeared in 2007.
Books: The Sunday Poem - No. 58 David Dabydeen ; Each Week Ruth Padel Discusses a Contemporary Poet through an Example of Their Work
Feb 27, 2000; Born in Guyana in 1955, David Dabydeen studied at Cambridge and London and now teaches at Warwick University. He writes both in...
At Home Here for 2,000 Years ; the Oxford Companion to Black British History Ed. David Dabydeen, John Gilmore & Cecily Jones OXFORD [Pound]30 (562Pp)
Apr 06, 2007; AD138, an African by the wondrous name of Quintus Lollius Urbicus governed Roman Britain. No, I am not about to review a work of...