R is for Eula Redhead (1917-1983)

Eula Anne Kathleen Foderingham was born in Grenville, Grenada and married Willie Redhead at the age of 25 in 1943. Eleven of her stories were broadcast on the BBC’s Caribbean Voices Programme between 1948 and 1954. In this way she is one of a significant number of West Indian women writers of the mid-century who were literally heard but not seen. Saturated in local knowledge and fluent in patois and folklore, Eula’s stories are grounded in a Grenadian world. While some are clearly rooted in the island’s oral tradition and tell of Compère Czien’s various escapades, other more realist sketches sensitively depict the everyday lives of Grenadians.

When Willie took the position of Superintendent of Her Majesty’s prisons in Barbados in the mid-1950s, Eula published work in the Children’s corner of the Barbados Advocate under the name of Kathleen Clarke—her mother’s maiden name. In 1960, they moved to Belair Park, Carriacou (now Heritage Park) when Willie became the Administrator of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. They moved back to Grenada in 1967, where she lived for the rest of her life. 

Eula was known to be a natural storyteller and children were usually her first audience. She would visit scout groups and hospitals to tell her stories. She even composed a spontaneous story for the Caribbean Heads of Government at the request of Errol Barrow when the group met in Carriacou. 

Although writing was something that Eula did all the time, she was not known or recognised as a published writer in her own community and few people now know that the wife of the more-famous Willie Redhead made such a significant literary contribution in her day. 

Her work was included in Tim-Tim Tales from Grenada: Children’s Stories from Grenada, West Indies edited by Beverley Steele and Bruce St John. Sadly many papers associated with Marryshow House were lost in the hurricane, including stories by Willie and Eula that had been transcribed. A number of unpublished manuscripts survive in a private family archive. 

Particular gratitude goes to Aaron John and Beverley Steele for biographical information and shared materials.

More about the author

Hyacinth M. Simpson’s article, “The BBC’s Caribbean Voices and the Making of an Oral Aesthetic in the West Indian Short Story,” is available to read online freely.

Kathleen Clarke’s story “Compere Cat’s Wedding Feast” can be found in Tim Tim Tales: Children’s Stories from Grenada, West Indies.

The Digital Library of the Caribbean includes scholarly essays and newspaper articles referencing Redhead in periodicals such as Caribbean Quarterly and the Barbados Advocate.

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