Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Pamela attended high school in Jamaica, and Newton College of the Sacred Heart in Newton, MA, where she did a first degree in English. A trained language-arts teacher with a PhD in English from the University of the West Indies, she has taught at secondary and tertiary levels, trained teachers, edited an academic journal, and worked in media, especially television, and in publishing.

Mordecai has collaborated on, or herself written, more than 30 books, including textbooks, children's books, six books of poetry for adults, a collection of short fiction, a novel, and (with her husband, Martin Mordecai) a reference work on Jamaica.Her poems and stories for children are widely collected and have been used in textbooks in the UK, Canada, the US, West Africa, the Caribbean and Malaysia.

Mordecai has lived in Canada since 1994, but the Caribbean experience, both in the region and in the diaspora, continues to be an important preoccupation in her writing. In 2013 she was awarded a Bronze Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica.

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