Lakshmi Persaud: A Story of Passion, Resilience, and Literary Achievement

Lakshmi Persaud: The Inspirational Journey of a Trinidadian-British Writer

Lakshmi Persaud (20 September 1937 – 14 January 2024) was a Trinidad-born, British-based writer who resided in London, England. Her literary journey is a testament to the power of perseverance, creativity, and cultural heritage.

As the author of five novels—”Butterfly in the Wind” (1990), “Sastra” (1993), “For the Love of My Name” (2000), “Raise the Lanterns High” (2004), and “Daughters of Empire” (2012)—Persaud carved a niche in the literary world, blending Caribbean and British influences to create profound, impactful works.

Lakshmi Persaud: A Life Rooted in Cultural Richness

Lakshmi Persaud’s life began in the small village of Streatham Lodge, later known as Pasea Village, in Tunapuna, Trinidad. Born to Hindu forefathers who migrated from Uttar Pradesh, India, in the 1890s, Persaud grew up in a family deeply rooted in retail business.

Her early education at Tunapuna Government Primary School, St. Augustine Girls’ High School, and St. Joseph’s Convent in Port of Spain laid the foundation for her future academic pursuits.

In 1957, Persaud left Trinidad to further her education at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, where she earned a B.A. and Ph.D. Her doctoral thesis, “The Need for and the Possibilities of Agricultural Diversification in Barbados, West Indies,” showcased her early interest in socio-economic issues. She later obtained a postgraduate Diploma in Education from the University of Reading, United Kingdom.

Personal Triumphs and Family Legacy

Lakshmi Persaud was not only a writer but also a devoted wife and mother. She married the late economist Professor Bishnodat Persaud, with whom she moved to the United Kingdom in 1974.

Together, they raised three children: psychiatrist Rajendra Persaud, financial economist Professor Avinash Persaud, and economist and author Sharda Dean. Despite living primarily in the UK since the 1970s, Persaud maintained a strong connection to her Caribbean roots, including a two-year stint in Jamaica during the 1990s.

Persaud’s life was marked by resilience and intellectual vigor, even in her later years. On 14 January 2024, she passed away at her home in London after battling dementia since 2017. Despite the challenges of the illness, she retained her sharp intellect and wit until the end, leaving behind a legacy of strength and inspiration.

A Distinguished Career in Education and Writing

Lakshmi Persaud’s professional journey began in the Caribbean, where she taught at various schools, including St. Augustine Girls’ High School, Bishop Anstey High School, and Tunapuna Hindu School in Trinidad, Queen’s College in Guyana, and Harrison College and The St. Michael School in Barbados. Her passion for education and her commitment to nurturing young minds were evident throughout her teaching career.

After leaving teaching, Persaud transitioned to a career in freelance journalism, writing articles on socio-economic concerns for newspapers and magazines.

Her voice reached a wider audience through her contributions to the Royal National Institute for the Blind in London, where she read and recorded books in philosophy, economics, and literature. Her short story “See Saw Margery Daw,” broadcast by the BBC World Service in 1995, marked the beginning of her successful fiction-writing career.

Literary Achievements and Recognition

Lakshmi Persaud’s literary contributions have been widely recognized and celebrated. In recognition of her work, Warwick University established the ‘Lakshmi Persaud Research Fellowship’ at its Centre for Translation and Comparative Cultural Studies.

In 2012, she received the Lifetime Literary Award from the National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) of Trinidad and Tobago for her significant contribution to the country’s literature.

Her accolades continued with an Honorary Doctorate, Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.), conferred by The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, in 2013. This honor highlighted her exceptional literary achievements and her role in enriching Caribbean literature.

In March 2020, Persaud was awarded the Chaconia Medal (gold) as part of the National Awards in Trinidad and Tobago, recognizing her long and meritorious service to education and culture.

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