Author, editor, researcher and librarian, Mr. Lawrence Vernon, launched his new book, A Narrative of Political Parties in Belize, on November 20 at the National Heritage Library in Belmopan. The book, which is self-published, offers a detailed look into the political history of our country, Belize. The book was first launched at the Leo Bradley Library in Belize City on November 14, 2018. A condensed version of the book was published by St. John’s College in a publication entitled, “Readings in Belizean History” (edited by Lita Hunter Krohn), and some of the articles included have appeared in the Amandala.
Mr. Vernon’s latest work joins a number of his other publications, which include various short stories that are featured in the books, “Among My Souvenirs” and “Snap Shots of Belize”, as well as cultural stories such as “Cultural Groups of Belize”, “Dreadlocks Displaced”, “The Andy Palacio Movement”, “A Walk through Old Belize”, and “Placencia and its Environs”, and a number of research papers on Belize’s political history. Mr. Vernon has also edited and reviewed several books by national authors that have been published in Belizean Studies and the Amandala.
In September 2011, the country recognized and honored the contributions of Mr. Lawrence Vernon for his distinguished service to the development of the Belize National Library Service, by granting the Honor of Distinction by the Prime Minister, which is awarded to Belizean patriots.
Mr. Vernon, who was born in 1937, has been a career librarian, ever since graduating from Wesley College in Belize City. In 1963 he earned an Associate degree from the British Library of Associations, and in 1978 he was appointed Chief Librarian of the Belize National Library Service, until his retirement.
Mr. Vernon explained that the “intention of the book was to put together information that high school students were asking about the political parties.” He said he “decided to research the information and put it into one book so that students coming to the library can just access this in one location.”
A Narrative of Political Parties in Belize is written in semi-style format, including footnotes and endnotes to clarify and expand the text, and it has been updated to the most recent election. Mr. Vernon said that his research was “based on edited, summarized and adapted versions of the opinions expressed by the major players from direct reports of 6 local newspapers, including the Daily Clarion, Belize Billboard, Belize Times, Belize Beacon, Reporter, and Amandala”, and that “the views expressed are meant to be unbiased, not to compare or contrast any one political party, faction or personality with another.”
Mr. Vernon said it took some time to compile and write the book. “It has been in the making; it took me several years. It was not in this format; some of the contents were from 1987 and as you see it was not published until this year. But during that period I kept revising and updating the contents of the book, and adding the parties as they came on the scene,” he said.
He spoke of the inspirational people in his life. “A writer does not look really for inspiration, because if you wait for inspiration you never put the pen to the paper…you have to force yourself, but the inspirational people in my life—my mother; my mother had a lot to do with my upbringing. She set examples, and my teachers at high school/college, they sort of molded me, and I believe I got in because I was always a lover of English, the English language. I read a lot of books and I decided to, in fact I started to, write short stories in my career. That was my creative writing period. And then I decided to do research writing because I felt that as a librarian we have a lot of information at our disposal which we should give out to the people,” explained Vernon.
Mr. Vernon said that in the early days of his writing career he and his friends would form a group of three or four, and they would write short stories. He said the group met every week, and they would critique each other, their writing skills and the plots of their stories.
Mr. Vernon was asked his position on what is on everyone’s mind at this time, the ICJ. He said: “Well, I would vote an unqualified yes! I have lived with this situation in this Belize/Guatemala question for so long and I believe there should be some closure to it…so I would definitely vote yes. And this was reinforced by my friend, Assad Shoman…he is proposing that we say yes, and he gave so many good reasons…that’s the sort of reinforcement I needed.”