Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

The Anglo-Africa Who's Who: A Biographical Sketchbook 1907

Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

The Anglo-Africa Who's Who: A Biographical Sketchbook 1907

Article excerpt

The Anglo-Africa Who's Who: a biographical sketchbook 1907, edited by Walter H. Wills. London: Jeppestown Press, 2006. 471 pp. ISBN-13: 9780955393631 [first published by L. Upcott Gill, London 1907] £18.95.

This is a very welcome reprint of this most important reference work. It lacks the original Preface, the Appendix, and the many wonderful advertisements of the original, but the Addenda have been incorporated successfully into the main text which therefore has some 2000 entries. There is also an interesting new Introduction by the editor of this reprint, David Saffry.

The meaning of Anglo-African has changed considerably since this book was first published. Now usually taken to mean South Africans of English descent, in the context of this book it seems to include anyone who may have been associated with Africa, as long as they were not in fact African - although the odd Emir or equivalent person gets a mention - and there is no shortage of Boers, who would probably not have been best pleased at the suggestion they were Anglo in any way.

The type of purchaser this book was originally aimed at can be judged from this paragraph from the Preface of the 1907 printing: "In many instances the biographical section now contains details of the great enterprises controlled by individuals or groups in Africa - a feature which, for instance, in the case of mining companies, should be of great utility for current reference or prospective shareholders."

The book is therefore mainly concerned with South Africa and Rhodesia in general, and mining interests in particular, but participants in the Boer War, military men, diplomats and officials from other parts of Africa do get a fair share of the entries.

This is a dangerous book. Hours of valuable research time can be wasted pursuing the throwaway lines of the editor. We read for instance a very long and detailed entry for Field Marshal Earl Roberts of Kandahar, P.C., K.P., G.C.B., G.C.I.E, V.C. We learn of his distinguished military career in India, where he won his V.C. during the Mutiny, and his eventual victory in the Boer War. …

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