7 - 8 April 2004
STANLEY, Henry Morton (1841-1904). Autograph letter signed ('Henry M. Stanley') to an unidentified correspondent ('D[ea]r Sir'), 46 Fleet Street, London, 25 August 1872, 3½ pages, 8vo (traces of guards, obscuring parts of three words).
AN INTEMPERATE DENIAL OF HIS ORIGINS AND A CONDEMNATION OF THE BRITISH PRESS. Stanley, in accepting his correspondent's sympathy, rails furiously at his treatment in the Press: 'it is all of a piece first they would sneer at the fact of an American having gone to Central Africa - then they sneered at the idea of his being successful -- then when they heard my name they tried to rob me of it'; Stanley effectively denies the identification of his original name -- 'in one paper I was Smith in another I was Jones in another Thomas, and now they have changed it to Rowlands' - and equally treats with incoherent scorn the reports that he is not American - 'they would also rob me of my country - and gossip after flying uneasily over the four divisions of British Isles has settled it to be in Wales'. Stanley blames this 'gossip' on embarrassment: 'after burying Livingstone in forgetful-ness they hate to be told he is yet alive. What a country!'. The letter closes with thanks, and a suggestion of 'a rousing letter' to the Press to 'obviate the evils done by that filthy quotation in Spectat[or]'.
Stanley's fame in the wake of his finding of Livingstone was immediate, and was accompanied by sniping, scepticism and gossip in the Press - to which the explorer's response was often, as here, intemperate.
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