In the late 1920s the Gold Coast businessman Charles Francis Hutchison published the first volume of his book titled
The Pen-Pictures of Modern Africans and African Celebrities. The book contains 162 biographical sketches of Ghanaians that were important in business, in society and the church, in government, and in (nationalist) politics, both from Hutchison’s own time and from the nineteenth century. The text of the biographies is in blank verse, and portrait photographs accompany most sketches. Additional photographs of houses and special events, and added biographical information in the form of lists of famous deceased people complete the book.
The Pen-Pictures is a well-known source for the history of the Gold Coast, modern Ghana, cited and quoted by both professional historians and interested lay-people. In effect, The Pen-Pictures is an important socio-historical document. The format, the style of presentation, the intimacy of many of the life histories, the overview offered of non-European Gold Coast society in the 1920s, they all allow for multiple analyses by historians, sociologists, social anthropologists and scholars of language and literature.
This annotated edition is the first reprint of the book and offers a lively and both historically and literarily interesting text about an important phase in Ghanaian history. The added introduction and annotation offer a context hitherto unavailable to the scholar and general reader.
Michel R. Doortmont, Ph.D. (1994) in History, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands, is University Lecturer in International Relations and African Studies at the University of Groningen. He has published several studies on urban elites in Ghana and Nigeria, and is currently doing research into relations between cultural heritage, the public past and urban development. He is a founding editor of the
African Sources for African History series.