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The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood

Huxley, Elspeth

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ISBN 10: 1555841449 / ISBN 13: 9781555841447
Published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson, New York, 1987
From Ground Zero Books, Ltd. (Silver Spring, MD, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

First edition. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. 287, [1] p. Illustrations [some in color]. From Wikipedia: "Elspeth Joscelin Huxley CBE (nee Grant; 23 July 1907 10 January 1997) was a polymath, writer, journalist, broadcaster, magistrate, environmentalist, farmer, and government advisor. She wrote 30 books; but she is best known for her lyrical books The Flame Trees of Thika and The Mottled Lizard which were based on her experiences growing up in a coffee farm in Colonial Kenya. Her husband, Gervas Huxley, was a grandson of Thomas Huxley and a cousin of Aldous Huxley. Nellie and Major Josceline Grant, Elspeth Grant's parents, arrived in Thika in what was then British East Africa in 1912, when she was 5 years old, to start a life as coffee farmers and colonial settlers. Flame Trees.explores how unprepared for rustic life the early British settlers really were. Elspeth was educated at a whites only school in Nairobi. She left Africa in 1925, earning a degree in agriculture at Reading University in England and studying at Cornell University in upstate New York. Elspeth returned to Africa periodically, becoming the Assistant Press Officer to the Empire Marketing Board in 1929. She married Gervas Huxley, the son of the doctor Henry Huxley (1865 1946) in 1931. They had one son, Charles, who was born in February 1944. She resigned her post in 1932 and traveled widely. During this period, she published her first works including Lord Delamere and the making of Kenya a biography of the famous settler. In 1948 The Sorcerer's Apprentice A Journey through Africa was published. She was appointed an independent member of the Advisory Commission for the Review of the Constitution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (the Monckton Commission). An advocate of colonialism early in life, she later called for independence for African countries. In the 1960s, she served as a correspondent for the National Review magazine. Huxley's Red Strangers was republished by Penguin Books in 1999 and by Penguin Classics in 2000; Richard Dawkins played an important role in getting the book to be republished, and he wrote a preface to the new edition. However, as of 2006, Red Strangers was once again out of print. This work describes life among the Kikuyu of Kenya around the time of arrival of the first European settlers. There is a biography by Christine S. Nicholls, Elspeth Huxley: A Biography (Harper Collins, 2002). Huxley was a friend of Joy Adamson, the author of Born Free, and is mentioned in the biography of Joy and George Adamson entitled The Great Safari. Elspeth Huxley wrote the foreword to Joy's autobiography The Searching Spirit. Huxley died in a nursing home at age 89 on 10 January 1997 at Tetbury in Gloucestershire, England." From an on-line posting: "Francesca Pelizzoli is a published author and an illustrator of children's books and young adult books. Some of the published credits of Francesca Pelizzoli include Shota and the Star Quilt, Miracle Maker." Plot summary from an on-line posting: "Elspeth and her unconventional parents decide to settle down in Kenya and begin a coffee plantation. This is a time of discovery for Elspeth, as she encounters the incredible beauty and cruelty of nature, and new friendships with both Africans and British expatriates. A side plot involves the beautiful and bored British Lettice Palmer who enters into an affair with a handsome safari guide. Eventually, however, the excitement of Elspeth's life is disrupted by the onset of WW I, and the changes it brings." Very good in fair dust jacket. DJ has some wear, tears, and soiling. First Illustrated Edition [stated]. First printing [stated]. Bookseller Inventory # 68198

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an ...

Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, New York

Publication Date: 1987

Binding: Hardcover

Illustrator: Pelizzoli, Francesca

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


In an open cart Elspeth Huxley set off with her parents to travel to Thika in Kenya. As pioneering settlers, they built a house of grass, ate off a damask cloth spread over packing cases, and discovered—the hard way—the world of the African. With an extraordinary gift for detail and a keen sense of humor, Huxley recalls her childhood on the small farm at a time when Europeans waged their fortunes on a land that was as harsh as it was beautiful. For a young girl, it was a time of adventure and freedom, and Huxley paints an unforgettable portrait of growing up among the Masai and Kikuyu people, discovering both the beauty and the terrors of the jungle, and enduring the rugged realities of the pioneer life.

About the Author:

Elspeth Huxley was born in 1907 and spent most of her childhood in Kenya. She wrote novels, detective fiction, biographies, and travel books. She died in 1997.

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