Ian McDonald was born in Trinidad in 1933. After attending school in Port-of-Spain he went to university in Cambridge to read History. He was a gifted tennis player and captained both the Cambridge and the West Indies Davis Cup Teams. He first came to Guyana in 1955 and has lived here ever since.
His love for literature and writing began when he was a schoolboy and his first poems were published in the 1950's. Over the years, his poems began to appear in the BIM, Kyk-Over-Al and other journals and magazines. His novel "The Humming-Bird Tree" was first published by Heinemann in 1969, when it won the Royal Society of Literature Prize for best regional novel. His poetry entries has won him the Guyana Prize twice; once in 1992 (Mercy Ware, Essequibo) and in 2004 (Jaffo the Calypsonian, between Silence and Silence).