STANLEY, Sir Henry Morton (1841-1904)
The Autobiography of Sir Henry Morton Stanley... edited by his wife, Dorothy Stanley.
London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd., 1909. 8vo. (10 1/2 x 7 1/4 inches). xvii, 551, pp. Frontispiece portrait plus 15 photogravure plates, 1 folding map, and 2 folding facsimile letters.
Publisher's green crushed morocco gilt, upper cover with gilt device of Africa and lettered Bula-Matari, spine lettered in gilt, top edge gilt, others uncut. Green cloth box, with morocco label titled in gilt.
Deluxe issue of the first edition, limited to 250 copies signed by Dorothy Stanley.
Henry Morton Stanley was born in 1841 in Wales illegitimately as John Rowlands, abandoned as an infant by his mother, passed around to various relatives and eventually sent to the St. Asaph Union Workhouse for the Poor after his family members threw him out. As a child, Rowlands suffered years of abuse by his family and in the workhouse. In 1859, at the age of eighteen, he emigrated to America and began the process of reinventing himself, pretending to be an American and taking the name of Henry Hope Stanley, a successful cotton merchant he claimed he had met in New Orleans who informally adopted him and became a father figure to the young Stanley. In his autobiography, Stanley looks back on this time as being heavily affected by the abuse he endured and the stigma of illegitimacy. During the Civil War, Stanley became one of the few people to serve in the Confederate Army, Union Army, and the U.S. Navy, and after the war, he became a newspaper correspondent for the St. Louis "Missouri Democrat" covering General Hancock's army in the Indian campaigns. Stanley elaborates on his adventures during the Civil War and the Plains Indian Wars in the first half of the book. In 1868, Stanley began covering the war in Abyssinia for the "New York Herald," which sent him to Africa to find David Livingstone a year later, a feat that garnered him his first taste of international renown. Stanley then spent the following twenty years exploring and charting the African interior, authoring several best-selling books, and working as a colonial administrator for the Congo Free State of Belgian King Leopold II. In this latter endeavor, Stanley helped to establish one of the most controversial and violent colonial projects in the history of European imperialism. During this time, he worked on his autobiography, "as he indicates, out of a desire to make his nature and character comprehensible to the world which knew him in the day of his fame" (DAB). However, Stanley died in 1904 before he could finish it, and his wife, Dorothy, whom he married in 1890, stepped in to edit and prepare it for publication, completing the work from Stanley's notes and drafts. It was then published in London and Boston in 1909. In that same year, however, his wife found additional materials in their country house and a new deluxe limited edition of the "Autobiography" was issued in 250 copies. The new edition included a facsimile letter Dorothy found which had been sent by the young Stanley in 1858 when he was still known as John Rowlands, presented as proof that he was born and raised in North Wales. Copies of this deluxe limited edition were mostly given out to Stanley's close friends. Half the work is dedicated to the early years of Stanley's life in Wales and America, revealing the troubled origin story of the figure who would become the most accomplished and celebrated 19th-century African explorer. It also contains a detailed folding map of central Africa, with Stanley's routes outlined in color.
DAB XVII, pp.509-13. Adam Hochschild, King Leopold's Ghost (Houghton Mifflin, 1998).