In the course of this week, I embarked on a venture into the gold mine of early literature called Planters’ Punch. This is a magazine that was published by Herbert George de Lisser. Throughout my previous research, his name was almost always involved which I found really fascinating. De Lisser was born on 9 December 1878 in Jamaica and died on 19 May 1944. His fictional story, “Jane: A Story of Jamaica” became the first West Indian novel to have a black protagonist. He published 13 novels before death but those were not the only works of his and I found short stories in the Planters’ Punch magazines. His works encompassed fiction, Jamaican history novels. Herbert George De Lisser was also the general secretary of the Jamaica Imperial Association, chairman of the West Indian section of the Empire Press Union and an honorary president of the Jamaica Press Association. Furthermore, he took part in the effort to revive the sugar industry in Jamaica. He was a very busy man.
I found these resources on WorldCat and dLOC. When using dLOC I found 22 editions of Planters’ Punch, most of which were published during the period of 1921-1940. I had to manually enter the links for the pages and the pages that correlate to the corresponding stories which was very time-consuming. Every edition had a minimum of 3 stories or poems spread throughout the magazine. While searching through the stockpile of stories in the magazines I came across the work of Herbert George De Lisser several times, more often than not.
Whenever I hear or see the name Herbert George De Lisser I cannot help but think of a line from the song Non-Stop in the Hamilton musical which states,
“How do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive?
How do you write like you need it to survive?
How do you write every second you’re alive?
Every second you’re alive? Every second you’re alive?”
I find it mind-boggling and impressive that Mr De Lisser wrote so much.