Feb 26, 2009 - Sale 2171

Sale 2171 - Lot 288

Price Realized: $ 5,040
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 4,000 - $ 6,000
FIRST NOVEL IN ENGLISH BY AN AFRICAN AUTHOR (LITERATURE AND POETRY.) WALTERS, JOSEPH J. Guanya Pau. A Story of an African Princess. Engraved frontispiece. Small 8vo, original printed decorative green wrappers; edges very slightly rubbed. An exceptional copy of a fragile book. Housed in a custom-made 1/4 morocco clamshell case. Cleveland: Lauer & Mattill, 1891

Additional Details

first edition, rare. oclc locates only 3 copies. Virtually forgotten until 1994, when a scholarly reprint was issued by the University of Nebraska Press. "Guanya Pau" represents not only the first novel in English by an African author; it is a plea for equal rights for women published in an era where women had been "unkindly treated---too much flattered, too little respected." (From an epigraph by Sir Arthur Helps on the title-page).
The author of "Guanya Pau," Joseph J. Walters was born in Liberia in the 1860''s. He studied at the Cape Mount Episcopal School, and was sent by its principal to study at Oberlin in 1889. There he received his Bachellor''s degree in 1893. While at Oberlin, Walters wrote and had published "Guanya Pau," the tragic story of a young Vai woman. Guanya, after her father''s death, is promised by her mother to a man twice her age; a brutish man with six wives. Guanya rebels, falls in love and runs off with a young man her own age. Their flight makes up the body of the narrative, as they pass from place to place, showing again and again the oppression of women. Guanya herself states the main theme of the novel, that "women were never destined in this world to be servants sold and treated as slaves, but on the contrary . . . woman is as good and great as man." Walters'' own story is tragic; returning to Liberia to manage the school from which he had graduated, he died of tuberculosis in 1894.