“In Stuart-Young, literary scholar Stephanie Newell has found a fascinating subject for a study of race, class, and sexuality in West Africa and Britain between the 1880s and 1930s.... The intriguing narrative at its center will appeal to a wide range of readers, while specialists in the history of colonialism, West Africa, and sexuality should find this study provocative and insightful.”
American Historical Review
“Newell is to be commended for directing interest towards one of the most fascinating personalities of colonial Nigeria.”
Journal of African History
“Beyond being a good read and telling a fascinating story, this book makes significant new contributions to Queer, African, and British imperial history.”
African Studies Review
“An innovative analysis of a very intriguing figure, The Forger's Tale is beautifully and accessibly written. It will appeal to scholars with specialized research interests in imperial history, sexuality, and Nigeria.”
Stephen Pierce, co-editor of Discipline and the Other Body: Correction, Corporeality, Colonialism
Between 1905 and 1939 a conspicuously tall white man with a shock of red hair, dressed in a silk shirt and white linen trousers, could be seen on the streets of Onitsha, in Eastern Nigeria. How was it possible for an unconventional, boy-loving Englishman to gain a social status among the local populace enjoyed by few other Europeans in colonial West Africa?
In The Forger’s Tale: The Search for Odeziaku Stephanie Newell charts the story of the English novelist and poet John Moray Stuart-Young (1881–1939) as he traveled from the slums of Manchester to West Africa in order to escape the homophobic prejudices of late-Victorian society. Leaving behind a criminal record for forgery and embezzlement and his notoriety as a “spirit rapper,” Stuart-Young found a new identity as a wealthy palm oil trader and a celebrated author, known to Nigerians as “Odeziaku.”
In this fascinating biographical account, Newell draws on queer theory, African gender debates, and “new imperial history” to open up a wider study of imperialism, (homo)sexuality, and nonelite culture between the 1880s and the late 1930s. The Forger’s Tale pays close attention to different forms of West African cultural production in the colonial period and to public debates about sexuality and ethics, as well as to movements in mainstream English literature.
Stephanie Newell is a professor of English at the University of Sussex, UK, and the author of West African Literature: Ways of Reading, Literary Culture in Colonial Ghana, and Ghanaian Popular Fiction: How to Play the Game of Life. More info →
Save 20% ($23.16)
US and Canada only
Availability and price vary according to vendor.
Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center
In the case of Nigeria, scholarship on religious politics has not adequately taken into account the pluralistic context and the idealistic pretensions of the state that inhibit the possibility of forging an enduring civic amity among Nigeria’s diverse groups. Ilesanmi proposes a new philosophy or model of religio-political interaction, which he calls dialogic politics.
This is a study of the ‘unofficial’ side of African fiction—the largely undocumented writing, publishing, and reading of pamphlets and paperbacks—which exists outside the grid of mass production. Stephanie Newell examines the popular fiction of Ghana produced since the 1930s, analyzing the distinctive ways in which narrative forms are borrowed and regenerated by authors and readers.
Historians of colonial Africa have largely regarded the decade of the Great Depression as a period of intense exploitation and colonial inactivity. In Colonial Meltdown, Moses E. Ochonu challenges this conventional interpretation by mapping the responses of Northern Nigeria’s chiefs, farmers, laborers, artisans, women, traders, and embryonic elites to the British colonial mismanagement of the Great Depression.
In Our New Husbands Are Here, Emily Lynn Osborn investigates a central puzzle of power and politics in West African history: Why do women figure frequently in the political narratives of the precolonial period, and then vanish altogether with colonization? Osborn addresses this question by exploring the relationship of the household to the state.