Henry Morton Stanley

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Sir Henry Morton Stanley, GCB, born John Rowlands (28 January 1841 – 10 May 1904), was a Welsh journalist and explorer famous for his exploration of Africa and his search for David Livingstone. Stanley is often remembered for the words uttered to Livingstone upon finding him: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?", although there is some question as to authenticity of this now famous greeting. His legacy of death and destruction in the Congo region is considered an inspiration for Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, detailing atrocities inflicted upon the natives.[1]

Contents

Biography

Early life

Stanley was born in Denbigh, Wales. At the time, his mother, Elizabeth Parry, was 19 years old. According to Stanley himself, his father, John Rowlands, was an alcoholic[citation needed]; there is some doubt as to his true parentage.[2] His parents were unmarried, so his birth certificate refers to him as a bastard and the stigma of illegitimacy weighed heavily upon him all his life. He was brought up by his grandfather until the age of five. When his guardian died, Stanley stayed at first with cousins and nieces for a short time, but was eventually sent to St. Asaph Union Workhouse for the poor, where overcrowding and lack of supervision resulted in frequent abuse by the older boys. When he was ten, his mother and two siblings stayed for a short while in this workhouse, without Stanley realising who they were. He stayed until the age of 15. After completing an elementary education, he was employed as a pupil teacher in a National School. In 1859, at the age of 18, he made his passage to the United States in search of a new life. Upon arriving in New Orleans, he absconded from his boat. According to his own declarations, he became friendly with a wealthy trader named Stanley, by accident: he saw Stanley sitting on a chair outside his store and asked him if he had any job opening for a person such as himself. However, he did so in the British style, "Do you want a boy, sir?" As it happened, the childless man had indeed been wishing he had a boy of his own, and the inquiry led not only to a job, but to a close relationship.[3] The youth ended up taking Stanley's name. Later, he would write that his adoptive parent had died only two years after their meeting, but in fact the elder Stanley did not die until much later in 1878.[4] In any case, young Stanley assumed a local accent and began to deny being a foreigner.

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