Ethelreda Lewis

Ethelreda Lewis (1875–1946)

English-born novelist who wrote Trader Horn. Name variations: (pseudonym) R. Hernekin Baptist; Mrs. Ethelreda Lewis. Born in 1875 in Matlock, England; died on August 1, 1946, probably in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Selected writings:

The Harp (1924); The Flying Emerald (1925); Mantis (1926); Four Handsome Negresses: The Record of a Voyage (1931); Love at the Mission (1938); A Cargo of Parrots (1938); (edited) The Life and Times of Trader Horn (3 vols., 1927–1929).

Born in Matlock, Derbyshire, England, in 1875, Ethelreda Lewis moved to South Africa in 1904. Her first three novels, The Harp (1924), The Flying Emerald (1925), and Mantis (1926), were all published under her married name of Lewis. Four others were published under the pseudonym R. Hernekin Baptist: Four Handsome Negresses: The Record of a Voyage (1931); Wild Deer (1933); Love at the Mission (1938); and A Cargo of Parrots (1938). In 1984, Wild Deer was reprinted under her own name. In addition, Lewis edited The Life and Times of Trader Horn, a three-volume text based on conversations and stories told to her by an itinerant trader named Alfred Aloysius Horn. Meeting him one day when he knocked at her back door trying to sell a gridiron, she spent that morning and a good portion of the following two years listening to him talk, convinced that he was a rich literary resource. She eventually edited his pencil-written manuscript and produced the first volume of the series, The Ivory Coast in the Earlies, in 1927. With an introduction by John Galsworthy, who had met both Horn and Lewis on a visit to South Africa, it became a choice selection for the Literary Guild of New York and was highly successful. Two other volumes, Harold the Webbed (1928) and The Waters of Africa (1929), followed, all from notes she took during conversations with Horn.

Lewis was described by Vera Brittain in Testament of Friendship as having an "intense, serious mind," and was much preoccupied with the plight of black South African workers. They met when Lewis went to London to seek a publisher in 1923, with an introduction to Brittain's friend Winifred Holtby . Lewis' novels address the exploitation of black South Africans at the hands of whites (not a popular subject even when Doris Lessing first began to write about similar situations in Southern Rhodesia several decades later), and her concerns were thus sympathetic to the socially conscious Holtby. In 1926, Lewis organized a series of meetings at Workers' Hall in Johannesburg upon the occasion of Holtby's visit to South Africa, inviting white experts to discuss race relations. Although Lewis' fiction was intended to serve as an illustration of the horrors of imperialism, it has been criticized for being too facile, creating simple binary oppositions of the Western ideas of the civilized and the primitive, rather than showing the complications of imperialism. Ethelreda Lewis died in 1946, most likely in Johannesburg, South Africa, which had been her home since 1904.

Taken from:

Two photos of Alfred Aloysius Horn that I found on the Internet

Before Ethelreda met Trader Horn, she was already a published authoress.

Her first novel, THE HARP, was first published in 1925, and her second novel, THE FLYING EMERALD, was published in 1926--both by George H. Doran. They are scarce. I do not own copies.

Ethelreda's third novel, MANTIS, was first published in 1929 by Simon and Schuster, and followed the huge success of the TRADER HORN phenomenon. My copy of MANTIS is is not as nice as the one pictured below.

Between the Covers owns the first 2 images below

The first volume of TRADER HORN was first published in 1927 by Simon and Schuster. The next two volumes were also published by Simon and Schuster in 1928 and 1929, respectively.

I cannot find a photo anywhere of the dust jacket for the first volume. The photo below of the first volume (which I found on the Internet) is the front panel of the reprint edition that was a tie-in to the film.

My copies of the second and third volumes are with their original dust jackets, which are pictured below.

My copy of the first volume is without a dust jacket, but is a rare first printing, and even more rare due to it having been inscribed by Horn himself.

The frontispiece illustration and the title-page for the first volume of TRADER HORN

The first photo below shows what the copyright page of my copy looks like--no mention of later printings. The second and third photos below show that TRADER HORN was a phenomenal success.

Below: a photo of the Readers Library edition of TRADER HORN that I used to own, but sold.

Below: a photo of the Readers Library edition of TRADER HORN IN MADAGASCAR (volume 3) that I used to own, but sold.

Following the huge success of the TRADER HORN phenomenon, Ethelreda had a few novels published using a pseudonym: R. Hernekin Baptist.

I only own one of these pseudonymous novels: FOUR HANDSOME NEGRESSES, which was first published in New York in 1931 by Jonathan Cape & Harrison Smith.

Jonathan Cape also published an edition in London, but I do not own a copy.

My copy is extremely scarce since it has its original dust jacket, which is shown below.

Below: an image of a foreign-language edition of FOUR HANDSOME NEGRESSES