About the photograph....


Edward Wilmot Blyden, LLD. (1832-1912)

When EWB's book "Christianity, Islam and the Negro Race" was first published in London in 1887, it quickly sold out. In addition to the controversy sparked by its subject matter, the book caused a sensation because it's British readers refused to believe that it had been written by a black African. This photograph was specially posed to resolve that issue and appeared in the frontispiece of the second edition published the following year (1888).

The frontispiece for "West Africa Before Europe" made use of the same photograph which has become the best known image of E. W. Blyden. Many excellent photographs of Blyden, posed in America at different periods in his life can be found in "Abroad in America: Visitors to a New Nation 1776-1976" published by the Smithsonian Insitution.

The most extensive collection however, is to be found in Edith Holden's monumental biography "Blyden of Liberia: An Account of the Life and Labours of Edward Wilmot Blyden, LL.D." The author of this book was the grand-daughter of the Reverend John Pray Knox who first helped young Edward Blyden to come to America, from his native Virgin Islands (then a Danish colony). When Blyden had been rejected from a higher education at Rutgers College, New Jersey, Mrs. Knox encouraged him to go to Liberia in West Africa.

Return to Top Page