The Forger's Tale
The Search for Odeziaku
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: Ohio University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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List of Figures
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Introduction. Buried beneath Imperial History: The Search for "Odeziaku"
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At daybreak on 30 May 1939, approximately 200 senior and influential Igbo women assembled outside a modest wooden house in New Market Road, Onitsha. Quaintly named "The Little House of No Regrets," the property belonged to a British palm oil trader and poet who was known to the educated community as Dr. John Moray Stuart-Young...
Chapter 1. Forging Ahead: The Secret Gentleman of Ardwick Green
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On 4 May 1899, a shamefaced eighteen-year-old stood before the City of Manchester Petty Sessional Court. "John Mount Stewart Young," as he then called himself (also "John Mountstewart Young"), pleaded guilty to the charge of theft by forgery and was sentenced to six months with hard labor at Strangeways Prison (see fig. 1)...
Chapter 2. The Palm Oil Trader's View
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Increasing numbers of "poor whites" and lowly clerks such as Stuart-Young traveled to West Africa at the turn of the twentieth century, their interest in the continent aroused by popular novels, exploration narratives, and British newspaper coverage of the Boer War in South Africa. Ambitious young men from the British working classes...
Chapter 3. Fragments of Oscar Wilde in Colonial Nigeria
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In 1905, Stuart-Young stepped off the steam launch that had brought him up the River Niger on the last leg of his journey from Britain and, wielding an umbrella, walked into Onitsha town. In his luggage was an extensive collection of signed photographs and handwritten missives sent to him by British and French actors, music hall stars...
Chapter 4. "Uranian" Love in West Africa
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The small, dusty town of Onitsha suited Stuart-Young, for by 1905 he had decided to remain there permanently as an independent trader, backed by a loan from the Liverpool merchant Walter Taylor.1 As one African journalist wittily put it, unlike the colonial types who arrived in the region as administrators and civil servants, Stuart-Young...
Chapter 5. The Politics of Naming: Igbo Perspectives on Stuart-Young
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Onitsha residents, particularly those closest to Stuart-Young's protégés, were not ignorant of his Uranian desires, but unlike most British people in the era after the Oscar Wilde trials, they showed a great deal of tolerance toward him. The explanations for this forgiving attitude are explored in this chapter...
Chapter 6. The Strange Toleration of Stuart-Young in the African-Owned Press of Nigeria
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Stuart-Young used his status as an author and local personality to enter West African newspaper culture center stage. For two and a half decades between the 1910s and late 1930s he occupied numerous spaces in African-owned newspapers, including letters pages, poetry corners, occasional columns...
Chapter 7. A Class Apart: "Johnny Jones" of Back Kay Street
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Stuart-Young lived a solitary creative existence on his rural West African trading posts. Surrounded by the forests that had so impressed Henry Morton Stanley, the aspiring author finally claimed the social and intellectual freedoms denied to him at home: he set himself up as a scholar with houseboys and cooks to tend to his domestic needs...
Chapter 8. The Production of a Poet: Stuart-Young's Verse and Its Readers
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In the early 1930s, just as his palm oil business crumbled under the impact of the Great Depression, Stuart-Young created yet another duplicate or substitute personality for himself. This figure may be regarded as the final and perhaps the most successful of his forgeries or multiple incarnations. Named "Dr. J. M. Stuart-Young"...
Conclusion "Tales That Lie Awake"
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Stuart-Young died from throat cancer at a hospital in Port Harcourt on 28 May 1939 after suffering for a year from what was diagnosed as laryngitis. Despite his poor health, he continued to write poetry and articles throughout 1938, and the eastern Nigerian newspapers published Odeziaku's increasingly meditative verses...
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Publication Year: 2006