David Griffiths and the Missionary “History of Madagascar”


In 1838, William Ellis of the LMS published a History of Madagascar―considered a key primary source for nineteenth-century Malagasy history. Four years later, David Griffiths, longest serving member of the Madagascar Mission, published Hanes Madagascar (“History of Madagascar”) in Welsh. Campbell’s study explores the intriguing relationship between these works and their authors. It analyses the role of Griffiths; presents evidence that much of Ellis’ History derived from Griffiths’ research; and presents the first ever translation of Hanes Madagascar (with extensive annotations). This study suggests that the tensions arising from the different cultural perceptions of Welsh and English missionaries moulded the destiny of the Madagascar mission. It will hopefully inspire re-evaluation of other missions and their relationship to British imperial policy.
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Biographical Note

Gwyn Campbell is a Canada Research Chair, and Director of the Indian Ocean World Centre, at McGill University. He has published extensively on Africa and the Indian Ocean world, including An Economic History of Imperial Madagascar, 1750-1895 (Cambridge, 2005).

Review Quote

Extensively researched, 'David Griffiths and the Missionary History of Madagascar' reflects a masterful command of the primary material, along with the high attention to detail one has come to expect from Gwyn Campbell’s work. - Hilary Ingram, University College London In his ambitious and meticulously documented David Griffiths and the Missionary History of Madagascar, Gwyn Campbell, the noted religious and economic historian of Madagascar, connects the micro-politics of nineteenth-century missionaries working with the London Missionary Society (LMS) in Madagascar with the larger dynamics of shifting global power struggles including European imperialism and religious persecution. The result is a sweeping narrative that will be of interest to scholars across the fields of history, anthropology, Malagasy studies, and religious studies. - Sarah R. Osterhoudt, Yale University [A] beautiful printed, illustrated and well-bound book of over a thousand pages. ... [A] well-researched and fully substantiated text, based on both primary and secondary sources. - Timothy Yates, Bakewell


All readers interested in the history of Christianity, Christian missions, Madagascar, Empire, and Wales