Annie B. Hore

On the left is Annie from the frontispiece of her book (published 1886), while on the right is a picture c. 1881 from Meyer Family memorabilia, published in an article by Dr. G. Rex Meyer.

Reading this week:

  • Tanganyika: Eleven Years in Central Africa by Edward Coode Hore
  • The Road to Tanganyika edited by James McCarthy
  • Brazza, A Life for Africa by Maria Petringa

One of the interesting parts lately of transcribing the Chronicle is going through the book reviews. It was here I discovered the existence of the book To Lake Tanganyika in a Bath Chair, written by one Annie B. Hore.

I had not given a whole lot of thought to Annie until this point, and that is really an unforgiveable and glaring oversight on my part. She was born on April 8th, 1853 as Annie Boyle Gribbon, the daughter of a prosperous merchant. Annie enters our narrative when she married Edward Coode Hore on March 29th, 1881, while he was on his first home leave after becoming a missionary on the London Missionary Society’s Central African Mission.

I have been trying to dig up information on Annie and besides what I get from the Chronicle, a lot of what I will present here is from a thorough biography of Captain Hore written by Dr. G. Rex Meyer and published in Church Heritage. Dr. Meyer is first cousin twice removed of Annie. It was of course very foolish of me to overlook Annie because she does of course pop up all the time in the Chronicle, albeit it only ever as “Mrs. Hore.”

She was a remarkable woman. This was of course 1881 in Victorian-era England, and if you were a vibrant, outgoing woman and dedicated Christian and wanted to see the world and spread the message of Jesus you were pretty much out of luck, unless you got yourself married to a missionary (I am ignoring the moral quandary of missionary work here). As she says in her writing, she married Edward not in spite of his missionary work but as an enthusiastic partner of it. And so, eleven months after they were married she gave birth to their son Jack (February 1882), and five months after that (July 1882) she found boarded along with her husband and infant son the steamer Quetta bound for Zanzibar.

The act of getting from England to Lake Tanganyika is the story that comprises her book, To Lake Tanganyika in a Bath Chair (a “bath chair” here is like a wheelchair). It was not easy! They started one overland caravan but had to turn back when Annie got sick. She returned to England and then the next time she tried to go to the Lake it was via Lake Malawi (then Nyasa). They had to turn back from that due to fighting along the route, and so they began once again on the overland route. The wheels of the bath chair were not very effective, so it was essentially converted to a palanquin, and it was on the shoulders of 16 porters (though only two at once) that she travelled to Lake Tanganyika, becoming the first European woman to do so. She also thus became the first woman to join the Central African mission and started their first school, a school for girls.

I very much recommend a read of Annie’s book. Unfortunately it is nearly impossible to find. Unlike her husband’s book it only received a single edition. However, thanks once again to the Yale Library, I was able to obtain a copy and spent two who days transcribing it for the benefit of the internet and the world. Please find it below. I think the book is very witty, and Edward claiming that they should just get a move on down the road is channeling the exact same energy my dad has whenever he is on a roadtrip. It is also a unique look into fairly early European travel into Africa from the perspective of someone who is not a militaristic white dude. (When the Chronicle reviewed her book in January 1887, they overall recommended it, but noted that the introduction and conclusion by “E.W.” “does not add much to the value of the book, and is disfigured by some glaring inaccuracies,” which is true, but also that “the portraits of Mrs. Hore and ‘Jack’ are not pleasing likenesses, which is whack and shows the value of certain kinds of people’s opinions.)

Annie’s route, included in her book.

Once in place on Kavala Island, Annie threw herself into missionary work and excelled at it. It was a little slow going as first, as she and Jack were recovering from illness, but she soon started a school for girls, which in turn inspired Edward to finally start a school for boys. From Edward himself: “I may say I have worked from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., for months past, and it is certainly as master of works that I have gained [Chief] Kavala’s admiration; but the center and strength of our powerful influence doubtless lay in the arrival and presence of my wife and child, and its resulting details in Mrs. Hore’s girls’ school.”

The Hores returned to England from Central Africa for the last time in October 1888. When I read the Chronicle I am astonished that the missionaries would take their children into Central Africa, given the high mortality rate of missionaries there. But for the Hores, although their son Jack survived the rigors of caravan travel and spent his childhood on Kavala Island, it was upon their return to England that he fell ill and died in London in April of 1889. According to deceasedonline.com, he is buried in Camden (search “Hore” and “1889”).

In August of 1890, however, Annie gave birth to a daughter, Joan, and in 1894 the Hores moved to Australia where Edward continued to work for the London Missionary Society for a time. Annie had relatives in Australia, and in his article Dr. Meyer notes that “[Edward] was dour, grey and humorless; a personality in sharp contrast to that of his wife Annie who, while a devout Christian, had a great sense of humor and an ebullient personality and who was loved and admired by all who knew her. When Edward and Annie Hore visited the Meyer [Annie’s cousins] family in Sydney, which they did frequently after 1890, Edward, with his difficult personality, was ‘tolerated’ for the sake of his wife, who was popular and always welcomed.” Dr. Meyer also notes that, in helping fundraise for the Society, Annie’s “contributions were extensive and greatly appreciated… Annie Hore conducted many meetings and gave informal talks, mainly to women’s groups.”

When Edward finally left the Society for good, they settled in Tasmania where they ran a small farm. This farm, again according to Dr. Meyer, was not successful for a long time, but eventually matured into a productive if modest estate and when they sold it provided sufficient funds for a final retirement. Annie and Edward were respected members of the community. After suffering a stroke, however, Edward died in 1912. Annie outlived him by four days short of ten years, with both buried in the Cornelian Bay Cemetery in Hobart, Tasmania. Her epitaph reads “Missionary.”

Notes on this transcription: I have made some effort to proofread this transcription. However, I have maintained several of the book’s typos while contributing some of my own, and which is which is an exercise for the reader. I have included the best scans I could of Annie’s portrait, Jack’s portrait, and the map of her route. The book includes a map of Lake Tanganyika which is the same map prepared by Captain Hore that can be found in a variety of places, including here. I have also tried to put the pdf together in a fairly pleasing way but there was only so far I was able to go.

Book Review: Steam and Quinine

Reading this week:

  • Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah

We’re going to venture into all new territory for this blog and do a book review. The book in question is timely and relevant to our discussions here on this blog, which as my myriad loyal readers are aware has lately (though unlikely permanently) become more and more focused on the activities of the London Missionary Society in Central Africa. I promise I have other interests, which have also been documented on this blog, but it is winter and I am a working professional man now and Tim Harford tells me it is good to have serious hobbies so here we are.

One of the things I like about reading into the history of the London Missionary Society and especially the history of their steamer the Good News is that there is not a lot of competition in the space. There are a few other people I have found who have looked into all this which makes it interesting but it’s not like it takes all that much research to rocket to the top echelons of the field. However, the other edge of this sword is that it can make it difficult to access research items. One such item is the subject of today’s book review: Steam and Quinine on Africa’s Great Lakes: The story of the steamers white and gold on Africa’s inland waters by David Reynolds, with illustrations by Keith Watts Thomas.

Given the overall lack of interest in the topic, it is a little stunning that two books were published detailing the lake steamers of Africa in close order, namely The Lake Steamers of East Africa by L.G. Bill Dennis in 1996, and Steam and Quinine in 1997. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that either book got a second edition, and although there are copies of Steam and Quinine on sale for $60ish, I haven’t been able to find a copy of Lake Steamers except over in the Library of Congress. Fortunately for us, however, the Yale University Library is still willing to mail me books, which is how I got my grubby little hands on a copy of Steam and Quinine for us to peruse.

This book is clearly a work of passion for our friend David Reynolds. His biography on the back reveals he “was born to missionary parents near the shores of Lake Victoria in 1932” and completed his education in South Africa. This was his third book about African boats, the first being A Century of South African Steam Tugs (which apparently got three (!) editions) and Kenneth D. Shoesmith and Royal Mail, Royal Mail being a shipping line. This is clearly a man after my own heart, when it comes to steamships at any rate.

Although my specific interest in this book are the boats of Lake Tanganyika, and even more specifically as mentioned the Good News, he covers all the great lakes (Nyasa/Malawi, Tanganyika, Kivu, Albert, Victoria, and the honestly not-so-great Kioga) in a northward fashion. My expertise in this area is targeted, but I haven’t spotted any steamships (or some motor ships) that he missed, making this a very comprehensive review of steam navigation on the African Great Lakes. He does, however, devote more space attention to the boats that pique his personal interest, but honestly what is the point of being passionate about something if you’re not going to devote way too much space to it? *cough* this whole blog *cough*

But let’s circle back to my specific interest, the Good News. Honestly I gotta say this section does not come through shining. I think we’re both partisans here, but I am a much bigger fan (or devotee anyways) of Edward C. Hore than he is. Mr. Reynolds spends a good chunk of time maligning Captain Hore’s character, ending his biography with the note that Hore “died, impoverished and institutionalized, in Tasmania.” According to research published by Dr. G. Rex Meyer (kindly provided to me by the former editor of the unfortunately defunct Church Heritage journal), the only part of that sentence that is true is that he a) died b) in Tasmania, which for me throws much doubt onto his scholarship overall.

Although a feature of the book are paintings of several of the ships by Keith Watts Thomas, the book is also illustrated with sketches by David Reynolds. One of these sketches is of the Good News, included above. I have another nit-pick here. In his sketch, the ship is depicted with a sort of wheelhouse on top of the main cabin. Being as there are a limited number of pictures of the Good News and I have tried hard to see all of them, I think you, the reader, will agree with me that the sketch is derived from the below picture of the Good News in drydock. The ship that Mr. Reynolds has sketched does not match the layout of the real ship at all, which again puts me in fear for his scholarship, on my favorite boat anyways. The below picture isn’t perfect and shows a Good News under repair (for example, it is missing the booms and funnel), but I have also included below an engraving of the Good News under steam from Captain Hore’s book, Tanganyika: Eleven Years in Central Africa, which still doesn’t match the sketch.

Putative source of David Reynold’s sketch
Engraving of the Good News under steam.

I will try to avoid being entirely whiney here but noting that I did learn something intriguing about the eventual fate of the Toutou of Battle of Lake Tanganyika fame. This tidbit is hidden away in the section on the Graf von Goetzen / Liemba:

The Fifi, considered unserviceable, was towed out onto the lake and sunk in deep water on October 19, 1924. She went down with flags flying and all honours. The Toutou did not last long on the lake. She was transferred to Cape Town and could be seen in the Victoria docks with a brightly polished plate in her cockpit which read: ‘This launch served in the East African Campaign as an armed cruiser. Captured and sank three German gunboats with assistance of her sister launch, Mi Mi.’

This means now I gotta get my butt to Cape Town and see if she isn’t still there. Or better yet, anyone in Cape Town already?

Sketch of the Mimi by David Reynolds, along with the source image, below.

All in all if you want to get one book on the steamships that plied the African great lakes, honestly I’m not sure what book to recommend because there are astonishingly two and I haven’t read the other one. Though then again only one of them appears to actually be available. Though then again again the available one is like $60 and I’m not sure I can recommend it at that price. Then again again again they aren’t making more. I don’t know. It was at times a tedious and at times a very entertaining read, and as I said at the top a lot of passion went into it. I guess to conclude, please enjoy this final image I extracted from the book, the masthead of the African Lakes Corporation: