Criticism of Stanley Wide of the Mark; YOUR LETTERS TO THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPER OFWALES

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), July 23, 2010 | Go to article overview

Criticism of Stanley Wide of the Mark; YOUR LETTERS TO THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPER OFWALES


SIR - Mr Sel Williams (Letters, July 16) repeats criticisms of HM Stanley that have been made many times.

Stanley became an overnight hero after finding David Livingstone but his reputation was soon tarnished by allegations of brutality. When I was in school in Denbigh a half century after his death we were told very little about him. Within the town he was more remembered for the scandal surrounding his illegitimate birth and how his mother abandoned him in a workhouse, than for his exploits in Africa.

I am not an expert on the life of Stanley and the only biography I have read was by Tim Jeal who had already written a highly praised biography of David Livingstone.

He came to his subject having read all the earlier damning biographies, but was the first biographer to go through the archives of King Leopold of the Belgians dealing with Stanley's work in the Congo.

I don't know if Mr Williams read these archives before forming his opinions but Jeal's interpretation was that Stanley was not to blame for the atrocities in the Congo.

He considers Stanley to be an explorer of the first rank, but psychologically scarred by his childhood experiences. He was the first European to cross Africa from East to West and that alone would earn him a statue in most people's eyes. …

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