Louise Bennett, Jamaican Folklorist, Dies at 86

Historians in the News

Louise Simone Bennett-Coverly, a Jamaican poet and folklorist who became the voice of the island’s culture at home and abroad, died on Wednesday in Toronto. She was 86.

Her death was announced by the Jamaica Information Service, which did not give a cause. She was hospitalized in Toronto after collapsing late Tuesday night.

A social commentator who liberally used Jamaican patois and made famous the Jamaican catchphrase “Walk good,” she brought an overwhelming talent to the stage, radio, television and movies. She also was a presenter on the BBC’s Caribbean Service.

Louise Bennett, known to her fans worldwide as Miss Lou, was born on North Street in Kingston on Sept. 7, 1919, the only child of Cornelius Bennett, a baker, and Kerene Robinson, a dressmaker. Her father died when she was young, and she was reared mostly by her mother.

Ms. Bennett was educated in Jamaican schools, and though she was fond of literature, she once described herself as “an average student.”

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