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Edna Manley

  • CountryUnited Kingdom
  • Born1900
  • Died1987


Edna Manley (née Swithenbank) was an English-born Jamaican artist and social activist. As a young woman, she took private art classes with the sculptor Maurice Harding and studied at various art institutions in London including St Martin’s School of Art.

She married her cousin Norman Manley who became leader of the People’s National Party in 1938. They bore two sons, Michael who was to become a union activist and eventually prime minister, and Douglas, a sociologist and minister in his brother’s government.

Edna became a public figure both as an artist and activist committed to producing works centred on Jamaica (most notably the figure ‘Negro Aroused’) and as a promoter of Jamaican literary culture through the journal Focus, which she edited in the 1940s and 1950s.

Active for much of her life as an artist, she also taught at the Jamaica School of Art which is now a component of the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts.

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