Jamaica Kincaid was born Elaine Potter Richardson in St. John's, Antigua. Kincaid was educated in the British colonial education system, as Antigua did not gain its independence from England until 1981. Although she was intelligent and tested at the top of her class, her mother removed Kincaid from school at age sixteen to help support the family when her third and last brother was born because her stepfather was ill and could not provide for the family anymore. Her mother sent her to Scarsdale, a suburb of New York City when she was only seventeen to work as an au pair. However, after this move, Kincaid refused to send money home, she left no forwarding address and was cut off from her family until her return to Antigua 20 years later.