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Zee Edgell #547040
12/21/20 11:51 AM
12/21/20 11:51 AM
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Zee Edgell

Belize’s Beloved Author Zee Edgell Passes Away

ST. LOUIS, Missouri -- Zee Edgell, Belize’s foremost author of fiction, has died at the age of 80. She passed away on December 20, in her home after a battle with cancer. Born in Belize City, British Honduras in 1940, Mrs. Edgell was the daughter of the late Clive Tucker and Veronica Tucker (nee Walker). She was married to the late Alvin Edgell for 52 years. Together they raised two children: journalist Holly Edgell, 51, and physician Randall Edgell, 45. Through Randall and his wife, Emily Shavers Edgell, the couple had three grandchildren: Isaac, Sophia and Simon.

"Stopping by here to say thank you for all the kind and heartfelt wishes about my mother Zee Edgell. She was my best friend and inspiration and the person who always lifted me up when I was down. So many people have love for my mother, and your notes about what she and her work meant to you are lifting up my family, immediate and extended. Thank you." - Holly Edgell

Mrs. Edgell’s siblings are Barry Tucker, Laura Tucker-Longsworth, Martha Tucker-Eiley, Monica Tucker and Ava Tucker. Three brothers, Clive Tucker Jr., Alexander “Zandy” Tucker and Lenton Tucker are deceased.
Mrs. Edgell authored four novels and five short stories set in Belize, the only Belizean writer of fiction to do so. Her first book, Beka Lamb (Heineman 1982), is beloved in Belize and throughout the Caribbean. It has been part of school and examination curricula in the region and in other parts of the world since its publication.

Among Mrs. Edgell’s many services to Belize was her founding of the “The Reporter” newspaper in 1967. In addition, she served as director of the Women’s Bureau (later the Women’s Department) under the People’s United Party and the United Democratic Party in the 1980s. Later, she was a lecturer at the University College of Belize (now the University of Belize). Over the decades, Mrs. Edgell took time to visit schools around Belize to meet with young people studying her work and read to them from her books.

[url=[/url] to read the rest of the article in the Ambergris Today


Zelma, or Zee, Edgell was born October 21, 1940, in Belize City, where she was raised. Daughter of Veronica and Clive Tucker; married Al Edgell and had two children. She worked as a journalist and reporter, earning her degree at the Polytechnic of Central London and the University of the West Indies (Evaristo). Her first journalist position was for The Daily Gleaner in Jamaica, and later she became editor of a newspaper in Belize City. From 1966 to 1968, Edgell taught at St. Catherine’s in Belize City, Belize. St. Catherine’s Academy is an all girls’ Catholic School that has focused on the advancement of young girls in Belize with a concentration on faith since 1883. She lectured at the University College in Belize from 1988 to 1989, and worked at Kent State University in Ohio as Associate Professor of Creative Writing in the Department of English. She has also traveled extensively across the globe, living in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Britain and the US. Edgell is dedicated to writing about Belizean society. Interestingly, she is able to write about her homeland, Belize, from abroad. She does this through reading newspapers, newsletters, articles on the internet and by visiting Belize.

In 1981, she was appointed as the Director of Women’s Bureau, and, from 1988 to 1989, Edgell became Director of the Women’s Affairs in Belize. She was the first Belizean novelist to win the 1982 Fawcett Society Book Prize and gain international recognition. The Fawcett Society is an Organization based out of London that strives for equal opportunities for women worldwide. Its aim is to benefit and improve women’s lives through changes in society and policies. Edgell also won the Canute Broadherst Prize for her short story “My Uncle Theophilus” in 1999. She is an internationally recognized author. Some of her works have been translated into Spanish, Dutch and German.

All of Edgell’s works include, to a great extent, the political changes and themes taking place in Belize, from the partition of the former British Honduras in 1981, to the present. She gives her parents and close community credit for instilling in her such a strong sense of nationalism for Belize. She also states that not only did native writers of Belize inspire her to write, but also authors across the world who wrote about their native land inspired her. She says, “one of the easiest choices I had to make was in choosing to write about Belize and its development, because I believe that the more we understand about the cultural forces that shape our characters, the more we can understand ourselves and each other.”


CAREER: Belize Chamber of Commerce, editor of Reporter, 1966-68; St. Catherine's Academy, Belize City, Belize, teacher of English language and literature, 1966-68, 1980-81; YWCA, Enugu, Nigeria, third vice president, 1970-71; University of Wisconsin Center, Marinette County, assistant to the coordinator of public information and fine arts, 1976-77; Concerned Women for Family Planning, Secretary to the Governing Board, Dacca, Bangladesh, 1978-80; Ministry of Labour and Social Services of Belize, director of Women's Bureau, 1981-82, director of Department of Women's Affairs, 1986-87; UNICEF, consultant in Mogadishu, Somalia, 1984-85; University College of Belize, lecturer in English language, literature, and journalism, 1988-89; Programme for Belize, Belize City, public education consultant, 1990—; Kent State University, Kent, OH, assistant professor of English, 1993—.


AWARDS, HONORS: Fawcett Society Book Prize, 1983, for Beka Lamb; National Arts Council of Belize citation, 1984; University College of Belize citation "for outstanding and meritorious contribution to the development of Belize," 1987; research grant from Kent State University, 1994; Canute Brodhurst Prize for Short Fiction, 1999, for "My Uncle Theophilus:


The Festival of San Joaquin (1997). In Times Like These (1991).
Beka Lamb (1982).
Short Stories
“My Uncle Theophilus” (The Caribbean Writer, 199


Bromley, Roger. “Reaching a Clearing: Gender and Politics in Beka Lamb” (Wasafiri, 1985) Bruner, Charlotte H. “First Novels of Girlhood” (College Language Association Journal, 1988). Cohill, Tiffany. “About Zee Edgell” (Zee Edgell on the Web, 2002).
Down, Lorna. “Singing Her Own Song: Women and Selfhood in Zee Edgell’s Beka Lamb”
(ARIEL, 1987).
Evaristo, Bernadine. “Zee Edgell” (BOMB, 2002).
Mahlis, Kristen. “Women and Nationhood: Zee Edgell’s In Times Like These” (ARIEL, 2000). Salick, Roydon. “The Martyred Virgin: A Political Reading of Zee Edgell’s Beka Lamb”
(ARIEL, 2001).
Shea, Renee H. “Zee Edgell: Belizean Novelist” (Callalo, 1997).

Source: Excerpt from “Voices from the Gap” by WJ Harrel, University of Minnesota 2004.


Our country is saddened by the passing of a well-known Belizean Author Mrs. Zelma Edgell, known to many as “Zee Edgell.”

She was considered Belize’s principal contemporary writer, Zee Edgell’s novel are set throughout various time periods in Belize. They deal with historical events, universal themes, struggles specific to the Belizean society, and strong women protagonists.
Her publications:

1982: Beka Lamb, which won the Fawcett Society Book prize in 1983.
1991: In times like these.
1997: Festival of San Joaquin.
2007: Time and the river.
2013: Honoree of Meet the Author at the National Heritage Library

May she rest in peace and rise in glory.
Zee Edgell: Oct. 21, 1940 - Dec. 20, 2020

Belize National Library Service and Information System
Re: Zee Edgell [Re: Marty] #547055
12/22/20 05:50 AM
12/22/20 05:50 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 76,985
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

Marty  Online Happy OP

Belize's Most Celebrated Author Dead At 80

Zee Edgell, Belize's foremost author of fiction, has passed. She died on Sunday at home in Saint Louis Missouri after a battle with cancer. She was 80 years old.

Edgell started her life as just another Belize City girl in pre colonial Belize - but, by the time of her passing, she was a celebrated international author who had penned four novels including Time and the River, The Festival of San Joaquin, In Times like these, and Beka Lamb.

The first of course was Beka Lamb, a seminal work still considered a Caribbean classic coming of age story.

Tonight, in part one of our story celebrating Edgell's life and legacy, we look at how she arrived on the literary scene in 1982 - a self taught novelist, fully formed and ready to give the world a story for all time. Cherisse Halsall reports.

If you went to high school in Belize you were made to read a few titles among them Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, V.S. Naipaul's Miguel Street, and Zee Edgell's Beka Lamb.

It's a work that's become iconic - published a year after Independence. It's as much a coming of age book for the titular character as it is for the country of Belize. A story that came from the mind of a woman who had lived a thousand lives before she wrote its first page.

Holly Edgell, Zee's Daughter
"She loved to read and actually her favorite and first loved book was Tom Sawyer, the adventures of Tom Sawyer so I think that she loved to read and she always I mean, up until she passed she was reading and so that was a big driver and then it's fictionalized, it's depicted in Beka Lamb where freshman Beka wins a writing contest an essay contest and this was a shock to my mother as well as her family because she didn't think she was that great of a writer."

But despite her initial self-doubt, Edgell would continue writing, eventually becoming the very first editor at the Reporter. Her Daughter Holly, also a Journalist says it was the skills she mastered in Journalism that later allowed her to craft her stories.

Holly Edgell, Zee's Daughter
"Her dedication to learning and teaching herself a lot of different things she would also attribute it to training as a journalist she did train additionally as a journalist, and as a journalist you learn to organize your thoughts you develop your eye for detail and your ear for dialogue and your sense this comes first then this, this, then , this in order to tell a story in a way that is compelling and satisfying so a combination of her training as a journalist her natural talent and her drive to do something and capture Belize on the page a Belize that she knew that thank goodness we do have it because that Belize is no longer real with all its problems and challenges and issues, but also a kind of magic and special time in her life."

A special time that was permeated by her native languages so much so that when Edgell began to write she crafted her prose out of both English and Creole.

Ivory Kelly, Professor of Literature and Creative Writing
"Zee Edgell's Beka Lamb serves as a great example of what Belizean and Caribbean, Anglophone literature is and that is the usage of Belize creole is greatly managed in Beka Lamb and so for me both as a writer and a writer of teacher I have turned to Beka Lamb as exemplar. Now a days it's wonderful that our students take for granted that the usage of our indigenous language is our local languages within the Caribbean is the norm in the Caribbean writing these days. In this weekend's publication of the Amandala I just published an article in which I am survey a 100 year's of creole usage in Belizean literature and Zee Edgell's Beka Lamb is highlighted among the examples of great use, so it stands as one of the great models of language uses and embracing of our Belizean language and culture identity in our literature."

We'll have part two of the story for you tomorrow night where we dive into how Beka Lamb fits into finds its place in the Central American Literary canon and how Edgell used storytelling to breathe life into history.

Zee Edgell's children Holly and Randall Edgell have arranged for her to be buried here in her native Belize. We'll let you know when a date is set for her funeral.

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Re: Zee Edgell [Re: Marty] #547109
12/24/20 12:26 PM
12/24/20 12:26 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 76,985
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

Marty  Online Happy OP
Reflection on the life of Dr. Zelma "Zee" Edgell. On behalf of the National Institute of Culture and History, we express our heartfelt condolences for the loss of this accomplished Belizean author.

National Institute of Culture and History

Great read from Ms. Therese Belisle-Nweke tribute to the late Zee Edgell with some historical context.
In Amandala

The Zee Edgell I knew

I rarely visit my homeland, Belize, these days — and this was the case even before COVID’s unwelcomed intervention. But it has nothing to do with distance, cost and time, but rather because of the dumbing down Belize has been relentlessly subjected to in the last few decades, which has made it unusually philistinic and a slow-motion tragedy in the making. However, in the 1980s, and ‘90s, and even in the early 2000s, I willingly took the arduous journey from Nigeria to Belize, cheerfully changing planes from Lagos to London, then Miami or Houston, to get home and spend a month with relatives and friends.

It was at a dinner party held in my honour by Horace Young, one of Belize’s most distinguished and “old school” lawyers, that I first met Zee Edgell on one of my visits home. Horace, whose maternal grandfather and my paternal grandmother were siblings, and whose mother, Mrs. Florine Gentle Young, was a ward of my grandmother, Margaret Gentle Belisle, was anxious that I meet Zee. “She’s just like you”, he smilingly assured me. I did not think so at the time, because she was “a senior girl” to me, as Nigerians would say, and also because I held her in awe.

Both Zee and I were journalists. She was a trained journalist. I, on the other hand, had wandered into journalism after becoming disenchanted with working in the education sector. I had to learn journalism on the job, and later took journalism courses and did media attachments in the US. But both Zee and I had met our foreign husbands in Belize. Hers, a white American with loads of international experience, came to Belize as the Head of USAID. Mine, an Igbo-Nigerian, was a British-trained barrister and a member of the Bar in England and Wales. He had practised law in London and was recruited by Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and posted to Belize (then British Honduras) as a Crown Prosecutor before moving to the Bench as Chief Magistrate. In addition, both our husbands were much older than we were: Zee’s by 16 years and mine by 12. What also brought us together was the fact that my husband’s two closest friends in Belize when he lived there, were Zee’s father, Mr. Clive Tucker, and Mr. William Arnold, Belize’s wealthiest Creole entrepreneur at the time. Both men had befriended my husband immediately when he arrived, and the trio were a staple at the Newtown Barracks Club.

Zee had lived in Afghanistan as well as in Nigeria. She had witnessed the Nigerian-Biafran War, had resided in the Eastern Region of Nigeria, which now has been divided into nine states, and she knew Nigeria — the most complex nation in Africa — fairly well. She and I also shared mutual friends. One was Roseline Odeh, who had studied journalism with Zee in Britain at Regent Street Polytechnic, which is now the University of Westminster and is located in London. Both Roseline and I were among a small group of media women in Nigeria who founded the Nigerian Association of Media Women, of which I became its first National Secretary, and Roseline, the first Zonal Chairperson for Lagos.

Another mutual friend of Zee and I was the feminist historian, Dr. Nina Mba. Nina was from Sydney, Australia, and, like myself, had married an Igbo-Nigerian and followed her husband whom she had met in Australia to Nigeria. When I alerted Zee to Nina’s groundbreaking research on female political activists in Nigeria, who included the legendary Fumilayo Ransome-Kuti, the mother of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Afro Beat’s founder and its most famous exponent, as well as Nina shedding new information on the famous 1920s women’s riots against British taxation in Aba, a large town in South Eastern Nigeria, Zee was genuinely excited. We discussed in detail Nina’s book, Nigerian Women Mobilized: Women’s Political Activity in Southern Nigeria, 1900-1965, which had become mandatory reading in almost all Nigerian universities, and even beyond, and which Nina had asked me to review at its launch in Lagos.

Whenever I was in Belize, the Edgells would take me around, and occasionally I would sit with them after dinner at their lovely home in the Kings Park suburb of Belize City and reminisce. During one of our discussions, I discovered that Al Edgell knew a number of prominent players in the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War and had made copious notes of most of his experiences in Nigeria. While I was encouraging him to turn these into a book, Zee, after processing my own experiences in Nigeria, and my working time in Senegal, Gabon, Togo, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, insisted that I had so many novels inside me just waiting to emerge, that I ought to make time despite my hectic schedule to write them. She used to say: “You have the experiences, the insights, language, and yes — the imagination. Just write”. And, my retort was always the same — “mañana”.

The Zee Edgell I knew was warm, kind, at times self-effacing, and even diffident. She was acutely conscious at one point in time of being criticized (by “bad-minded cruffy”) for not having a university degree and yet being regarded as Belize’s foremost writer and actually teaching at a university. To which I replied that when it came to the arts, those who are painters, sculptors, writers, composers, musicians, and various performing artistes are chiefly measured on entering the Ivory Tower by the quality of their creative work and not the acquisition of degrees. But to my mind, the steady trickle of ignorant and envious nitpicking motivated Zee to storm the halls of academia and enabled her in the process to successfully acquire a couple of degrees. I reassured her then during this acute period of self-examination, that many of us, including myself, who had gone to university, had not achieved the kind of literary recognition she had, and perhaps never would. Her husband, Alvin Edgell, who predeceased Zee nine months ago, was always a tower of strength and totally believed in her.

I am disappointed, but not altogether surprised, that all Belize could have mustered for her was an “MBE”, instead of a “Dame” from its erstwhile rulers, the British. Yet there was this hullabaloo in Belize at one point in time regarding the African-American Olympic and World Championships artistic gymnast, Simone Biles. Belize shouted from the top of the roof about its proprietary rights to the celebrated American sport star, largely based on the fact that Biles’s STEP-grandmother, who with Biles’s grandfather had adopted her and her sister, Adria, and helped to bring them up, was from Belize. Simone Biles also holds Belizean citizenship through her STEP-grandmother. Yet what really held many Belizeans spellbound was that she refers to Belize as her “second home”!

It is true that unlike the West Indians, we Belizeans are generally bereft of globally recognised icons, such as Marcus Garvey, Frantz Fanon, Aime Cesaire, Walter Rodney, Eric Williams, and Nobel Laureates in Literature such as my favourite poet, Derek Walcott (he won the Nobel in 1992), and the misanthropist novelist, the Trinidadian-Indian, V.S. Naipaul (in 2001) . Nor do we have many of the likes of the historian, poet, culture activist and Africanist, Edward Kamau Brathwaite of Barbados, who taught me at university and died this year, and the greatest all-rounder to play cricket, (Sir) Garfield Sobers and the runner, Usain Bolt. Unlike Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica, we did not invent the kind of musical greats like the steel band and reggae, which has not only gone global, but is now nuclear.

However, my characterization of most Nigerian artists in one of my reviews on Nigeria’s contemporary art, as big fish in a small pond, is precisely our situation in Belize. Therefore, when we are confronted by creativity in the form of Errollyn Wallen, the Belize-born British composer, who is a truly global figure in the world’s leading concert halls, theatres and the much acclaimed Proms, we fail woefully to understand what such icons have achieved, and as a result do not know how to adequately reward, celebrate and treasure them.

Mrs. Edgell worked in the early stages of her career as a reporter for Jamaica’s widely respected newspaper, The Jamaica Gleaner, founded in 1834. She later became the founding editor in 1967 of the Belizean newspaper, The Reporter, which began as the newsletter of the Belize Chamber of Commerce. During one of my visits to Belize, I found Zee was lecturing at the University College of Belize, then a college of the little known Ferris State College of Big Rapids, Michigan, and which is now the University of Belize. Zee went on to later lecture in the US when she and her family eventually relocated there, and achieved the laudable feat of becoming a tenured professor of Kent State University.

Zee Edgell has written a number of short stories, as well as four novels. Her novels are: In Times Like These, The Festival of San Joaquin, Time and the River, and her most acclaimed book, Beka Lamb, which many believe shows Zee to be a feminist. This book was published by the highly regarded publishing house, Heineman. Among the literary prizes Zee won are the Fawcett Society Book Prize (1982) and the Canute Broadhurst Prize (1999). Her novel, Beka Lamb, is a staple of literature curriculums and examinations throughout the British Caribbean and Belize. When I handed her signed copies of this novel to her friends in Nigeria, they were not only impressed, but wildly exuberant.

Mrs. Zee I. Edgell made all Belizean alumni of the University of the West Indies (UWI) proud, of which I am one, when in 2009 she was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Letters degree, and was chosen to deliver the keynote address at its ceremony on the Cave Hill, Barbados campus. UWI is the pre-eminent university in the region (50,000 students and five campuses), and the only Caribbean university to make the prestigious list both in 2019 and 2020 of the world’s most reputable university ranking agency, the Times Higher Education. UWI is also one of the world’s most globalised universities, with nine global centres spread across Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and Latin America. That such a citadel of learning could honour a daughter of Belize is a singular achievement on the part of Zee Edgell, and says much about her. She has contributed to putting Belize on the literary map, with books which largely deal with the political changes and social issues within Belize, and in addition are readable.

Like a true daughter of Belize, Zee was a nationalist, and despite her middle class and in many respects privileged background, she never lost sight of her Belizean Creole origins. Both my friends, Nina and Zee, have been cruelly felled by that seemingly indestructible demon called cancer, a reminder to those of us left behind that in the midst of life there is always the Great Leveller, Death. But as we reflect in these miserable COVID times on the earthly passing of this gracious and inspiring, but very human writer, her children, grandchildren, in-laws, siblings and other members of her extended family should take solace in the fact that through her literary offerings we will always be in Zee’s debt. Indeed, as her spirit continues to live on another plane, in constancy she remains with us through the literature she has bequeathed to all those who love books and enjoy the art of reading.

Therese Belisle-Nweke writes from Lagos, Nigeria.

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