Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

The Long Garden Master in the Gold Coast: Life and Times of a Colonial Agricultural Officer in the Gold Coast, 1929-1947

Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

The Long Garden Master in the Gold Coast: Life and Times of a Colonial Agricultural Officer in the Gold Coast, 1929-1947

Article excerpt

The Long Garden Master in the Gold Coast: Life and Times of a Colonial Agricultural Officer in the Gold Coast, 1929-1947, by Charles, Marjorie and Sylvia Lynn. Sandy: Authors Online Ltd, 2012, vii + 322 pp. ISBN 978-0-75520710-7. No price given.

Charles Lynn studied at Wye Agricultural College and Cambridge University, subsequently taking up the post of Assistant Superintendent of Agriculture in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1929. Apart from various trips home and visits to neighbouring territories, he remained in the post until 1947, based throughout in the northern territories of the Gold Coast, particularly around Tamale and Zuarungu. Lynn seems to have enjoyed a successful career in West Africa, and subsequently occupied a number of senior posts in colonial agricultural departments.

Throughout his time in the Gold Coast, Lynn appears to have been a prolific correspondent, in particular writing many letters to his mother in England. These, together with others written by his wife Marjorie, provide part of the material for this book, which has been assembled by Lynn's daughter, Sylvia Lynn. The book is written in the first person as memoir, interspersed with substantial extracts from Charles Lynn's letters (and those of his wife) to his mother.

It is unfortunate that the preface to the book leaves a little doubt about how the narrative was produced. Sylvia Lynn remarks that she encouraged her father to write his memoirs and finished them herself after his death. In this sense there is some doubt about the authenticity of the author's 'voice'. This is, of course, not true of the letters, but here again the reader is unsure of the extent to which they have been edited. The text is well-laid out, out with the letters and memoir clearly demarcated. Useful footnotes elaborate on some of the points made in the text and include biographical details of some of the persons mentioned.

The book is a detailed account of the time that Lynn spent in the Gold Coast. Written in lively language, it gives the reader a clear idea of the practical aspects of the life of a colonial official and scientist and his day-to-day activities. Living in a relatively remote place and sometimes cut off from his colleagues, Lynn, and later his wife Marjorie, enjoyed a life of great interest, but also of considerable danger and hardship. Lynn endured serious illness and there are accounts of the deaths of colleagues. …

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