Olive Senior was born and brought up in the parish of Trelawny, Jamaica. She was educated at the Montego Bay High School in St. James, Jamaica and later in Canada at Carleton University.
Olive Senior is the prizewinning author of 18 books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction and children’s literature. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honours being recognized as a writer, researcher and literary luminary across the world. Some of her many awards include Writers Trust of Canada Matt Cohen Award for Lifetime Achievement, 2019; D.Litt (Hon.) University of the West Indies, Jamaica, 2017; Norman Washington Manley Foundation Award for Excellence (preservation of cultural heritage – Jamaica) 2003; Gold Medal of the Institute of Jamaica 2004; Humanities Scholar, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados 2005; Dana Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing and International Education, St. Lawrence University, Canton NY, 1994-5; Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council works-in-progress grants.
Her work is the subject of numerous critical essays and has been translated into many languages, most recently Arabic (Gardening in the Tropics), Spanish (Shell), Korean and three South African languages (Anna Carries Water). Her poetry book Gardening in the Tropics has been a textbook on the CAPE syllabus in Caribbean schools and has been on the International Baccalaureate syllabus. Other work such as Summer Lightning have been taught in schools and universities worldwide.
Olive Senior has also forged paths in publishing including being Editor of Social and Economic Studies (UWI) and Jamaica Journal (Institute of Jamaica). With a benevolent spirit, Senior conducts writing workshops, lectures, and readings at many venues internationally. An active faculty member of the Humber School for Writers, Humber College, Canada, from 1998 to the present, she also serves as a writing mentor for Diaspora Dialogues, Ontario Arts Council. Senior has contributed to Jamaican education processes; interacting with CAPE students in Jamaica and the Caribbean under the auspices of the University of the West Indies, the Caribbean Examination Council and Bocas LitFest.
She demonstrates her love for teaching through her many appointments as lecturer and faculty member within tertiary institutions regionally and internationally. These include the University of Toronto; St Lawrence University, Canton, NY; University of Miami, Florida; Barnard College, Columbia University, New York; University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad.
Senior has also been appointed as Writer in Residence at Résidence, Ecla Résidences de la Prévôté, Bordeaux, France, 2014; University of Adelaide, Australia, 2009; University of the West Indies, Trinidad, 2002; University of Alberta, 1998-1999; University of the West Indies, Jamaica, 1993, 1998; Banff International Writing Studio, 1997; Hawthornden Fellow, Scotland, 1994; Arts Council of Great Britain International Writer-in-Residence, England, 1991.