Edna Manley

Photo added by C & N Rasmussen

Edna Manley

  • Birth 28 Feb 1900 Hampshire, England
  • Death 10 Feb 1987 Jamaica
  • Burial Kingston, Kingston, Jamaica
  • Memorial ID 66619470

Edna Manley, wife of Jamaican National Hero, Norman Washington Manley and mother of former Prime Minister, Michael Manley, was born in Hampshire, England in 1896. She was a leading Jamaican artist and used her art to reflect the changing face of Jamaican social and political life. She expressed the political intensity of the 1930s in her sculpture, especially in the piece, Negro Aroused. The piece was symbolic of the times and the wave of nationalism that was spreading across the country. It was bought by public subscription for 100 Pounds.

The experience of coming to a new country and attempting to establish herself as an artist was a harsh and painful experience to the vulnerable young Edna. She and her baby returned to England in 1923. She soon realized that England was not for her; she wanted to be with her husband and in Jamaica and it was not long before she returned. Her exhibitions abroad gave her recognition as a sculptor; in 1931 she and a fellow artist Koren dor Harootian had their own exhibition, her first in Jamaica.

In 1931, she was established enough to have her first onewoman show in England. The Jamaican Art Movement progressed and Edna was able to encourage and guide many young artists. She started Focus, a literary and political publication which became a forum for many young writers.

Her artwork shows her sensitivity to the Jamaican people and environment. her involvement in the cultural life of Jamaica helped to develop the country's national and cultural identity. She executed the memorial sculpture of Paul Bogle (one of Jamaica's national Heroes) erected in Morant Bay on October 11, 1965.

She was a skilful political activist, sharing the work of her husband who was among those in the forefront of the Edna Manley nationalist movement. Together with other committed Jamaican women like Aggie Bernard and Gladys Longbridge, she supported the workers during the 1930s upheaval, ensuring that the strikers were fed. In doing this she helped nationalists such as her husband, to use the situation to build a political party and establish his leadership in the movement.

She decided in 1975 to give up sculpting as it was too taxing for her. She took up painting.

Edna Manley died on February 10, 1987, a few weeks short of her 87th birthday.


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  • Created by: C & N Rasmussen
  • Added: 7 Mar 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 66619470
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Edna Manley (28 Feb 1900–10 Feb 1987), Find A Grave Memorial no. 66619470, citing National Heroes Park, Kingston, Kingston, Jamaica ; Maintained by C & N Rasmussen (contributor 46971876) .