233 : Building your Library # 4

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was the London-born son of a Sierra Leonean doctor. He attended the Royal College of Music from 1890 into 1897, and by 1900 was known for his choral orchestrations of Longfellow’s poem ‘Hiawatha’. His unexpected death, aged 37, in September 1912 led to a friend writing his biography. William Berwick Sayers’s Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Musician. His Life and Letters with 8 illustrations appeared in 1915. 330 pages. Used copies are available from £15. Coleridge-Taylor’s fame led to a different London publisher reprinting the biography in 1927. This was reset, and house numbers were omitted. Because Sayers had been the composer’s friend from around 1905 the biography is warm. Unfortunately there are errors including the medical school in London attended by Dr Taylor, an invented account of the doctor’s experience of working in England (in fact he was back in Africa in February 1875 and his son born in August 1875), and the wrong year is given for the composer’s first contact with black American poet Paul Dunbar (which was in 1897 not 1896 as in the book). Copies of the 1927 book are available at £15. The book was reprinted in facsimile by an American publisher in the 1960s.

The composer’s widow Jessie’s Genius and Musician was published in 1943. It is 76 pages but it is priced at £39.

Index to Building Your Library


#  1         Neil Parsons, King Khama, Emperor Joe and the Great White Queen. Tswana 1895

#  2         Nancy Cunard

#  3         Leslie ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson

#  4         Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

#  5         Brew family of Ghana and London

#  6         Booker T Washington; Chief Alfred Sam

#  7         Wellesley Cole, Kossoh Town Boy and An Innocent in Britain

#  8         Ira Aldridge

#  9         Paul Robeson, Negro, 1927

# 10       The Black Abolitionist Papers, Vol 1

# 11       Jomo Kenyatta

# 12       Langston Hughes The Big Sea (1940) and Rampersad’s biography 1986, 1988

# 13       Percy Chen, China Called Me

# 14       Stimela Jingoes (Lesotho) recalled France in 1917; Herbert Julian Black Eagle memoir of a Trinidad aeroplane fanatic trained in 1910s England

# 15       Thomas L. Johnson, Twenty-eight Years a Slave (Bournemouth 1909)

# 16       Donald Hinds, Journey to an Illusion (1966).

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