Stanley, The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer
There are many false beliefs about the man known as Henry Morton Stanley. Born in 1840 in Denbigh, his real name was John Rowlands, the illegitimate first child of Elizabeth Parry who abandoned him. Until he was five years old John was cared for by his maternal grandfather, Moses Parry. After his grandfather’s death he was abandoned once more and consigned to St Asaph workhouse. At seventeen he went to America where he took the name of a New Orleans cotton merchant. Throughout his life, haunted by insecurity, Stanley lied and invented to maintain the charade. He is remembered for that famous meeting with David Livingstone and reviled for his record of brutality in his dealings with the people of the Congo, enabling the Belgian King Leopold II to establish a flourishing slave trade.
With access to a previously closed family archive, Tim Jeal examines anew the case against Stanley and succeeds in absolving him of many of the crimes wrongly attributed to him. Whether this excellent account will succeed in changing the long held opinion of Stanley as an avaricious racist remains to be seen.