Rosa Guy was an author from Diego Martin, Trinidad who was known for telling the deliberate and unapologetic truth to young readers about life through her novels. Guy used her own experiences to talk to her readers about race, class, poverty, sexuality and tensions between African-Americans and immigrants.
Admired by respected authors like Maya Angelou, Guy came to America without parents or money. After relocating to New York at age seven, Guy’s mother passed away and their tyrannical father raised her and her sister. He too died seven years later, leaving the sisters to an orphanage.
Turning inside her imaginative mind that escaped the conditions around her, Guy published her first book, “Bird at My Window,” in 1966. She then turned to acting and fine arts. In 1950, Guy started the Harlem Writers Guild. She made a name for herself through her books, which talked about teen lesbianism and pregnancy. Her most well-known collections were “The Friends” (1973), “Ruby” (1976) and “Edith Jackson” (1978). The characters developed throughout each story, dealing with very realistic issues of contemporary teens, including abortion.
While she concentrated on teen-centered storylines, Guy’s adult novel “My Love, My Love: Or, The Peasant Girl” (1985), was made into a Broadway play called “Once On This Island” that ran for a year in 1990. The play was nominated for eight Tony Awards.
Guy passed away in the Upper West Side of Manhattan on Sunday, June 3, 2012 from cancer. She was 89.