Originally posted by the National Library of Jamaica
In this season of love, we’re taking a look at 10 of Jamaica’s most captivating love stories. These stories of triumphant love gripped the nation and became indelibly entwined in the country’s social history and lore.
Maurice and Valerie Facey
Valerie Hart-Collins came to Jamaica from Europe at age 17. She arrived at Kingston Harbour on the banana boat the MS Bayan. As the boat approached the pier, she leaned over the rail of the boat’s deck to gaze at the beautiful city. It was then that Maurice Facey first laid eyes on the woman that would become his life partner. Within a year they fell in love and Maurice asked her to marry him. But Valerie’s parents refused to give their permission. They disapproved of Maurice as a mixed race Jamaican and insisted that Valerie was too young to get married. Still, the young lovers were unshaken and determined to become man and wife.
Valerie’s parents retained the legal services of none other than the eminent Norman Manley to prevent the wedding and even orchestrated to have Valerie arrested on the grounds of working in Jamaica without a permit. Valerie chose to spend the night in prison rather than be deported and separated from her love.
At the intervention of the then Governor of Jamaica, Sir Hugh Foot, they were finally allowed to marry without parental consent. It was a sensational scandal in 1950s Jamaica. Valerie and Maurice were married in a packed St. Andrew Parish Church in Half Way Tree. Hundreds of Jamaicans had come out to see the obstinate young lovers who had caused such a stir.
Their story certainly didn’t end there, however. In his early days as a businessman, Maurice experienced setbacks. In 1956 after the collapse of a business project, the family sold their Norbrook home and its entire contents. The Faceys and their two children left the house with nothing but the clothes on their backs. During these difficult times, Valerie remained by her husband’s side. Maurice Facey lived to become one of Jamaica’s most successful and wealthy businessmen. They were married for 61 years before Maurice died in 2013. Looking back on their relationship, Valerie has said, “It was a marriage made in heaven…there is no marriage that is easy but I think we had a very good marriage, we fought the battle well.”
“10 things you didn’t know about Valerie Facey.” The Jamaica Gleaner, 5 January 2014, http://jamaicagleaner.com/gleaner/20140105/out/out2.html
Allen, Desmond. “Valerie and Maurice Facey: A 60-year marriage that should not have been.”, The Jamaica Observer, 21 April, 2013. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Valerie-and-Maurice-Facey–A-60-year-marriage-that-should-not-have-been_14109521
“Portraits -Valerie Facey – Lucky Victim of Fate” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdkGu1uD2Xg
Louise Bennett and Eric Coverley
What can we say about the beloved Miss Lou? Simply that to know her was to love her – and perhaps no one knew her better than Eric Coverley. Louise Bennett met Eric ‘Chalk Talk’ Coverley, a popular actor and talent scout, in 1936 at a prize-giving concert at her alma mater, Excelsior. She asked him for autograph and he congratulated her on her performance. Eric invited her to be part of a Christmas concert at the Coke Memorial Hall (after asking her mother’s permission of course). The rest, as they say, is history.
They remained close friends for many years, during which time Louise lived in England and New York. While on a trip to New York in 1953, Eric called Louise on her birthday. They reconnected and began working together, co-directing a folk musical called, Day in Jamaica. Eric would often escort her home after a performance or engagement before having to rush away to catch a late train back to where he was staying. It was one such night when he said to her, ‘Louise I can’t stop a minute to talk with you. It seems that I will just have to marry you.” In true Miss Lou fashion, Louise responded “Coverley, is that the way you propose? That could never be a proposal!”. She must have accepted because they were married on May 30, 1954 in Harlem. He was 42, she was 35.
After returning to Jamaica in 1955, both continued their work in the arts. Enfield House, their home in Gordon Town, was the site of many celebrations and gatherings. Though they never had any biological children together, Eric and Louise often welcomed the children of extended relatives and community members into their home. They brought up these children together with Fabian, Eric’s son from a previous relationship.
When Eric’s health began to decline, he and Louise moved to Canada in 1987 to join Fabian who lived in Toronto. Eric died at age 91 in 2002 and Louise would follow four years later in July 2006.
Click here to view the NLJ’s Miss Lou Archives – including published and unpublished materials, photographs and audio-visual materials housed at the National Library of Jamaica.
Morris, Mervyn. Miss Lou: Louise Bennett and Jamaican Culture, Kingston: Ian Randle Publsihers, 2014.
“The Mother of Jamaican Culture Remembered”, The Jamaica Gleaner, 3 June 2012, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120603/ent/ent5.html