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The Scene Changes

Thomson, Basil

Published by Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc, Garden City, N.Y., 1937
Condition: Good. No dust jacket Hardcover
From Ground Zero Books, Ltd. (Silver Spring, MD, U.S.A.)

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vii, [1], 455, [1] p. Illustrations. Cover has some wear and soiling. Erasure residue on fep and inside back cover. From Wikipedia: "Sir Basil Home Thomson, KCB (21 April 1861 26 March 1939) was a British intelligence officer, police officer, prison governor, colonial administrator, and writer. Thomson was born in Oxford, where his father, William Thomson (who would later become Archbishop of York), was provost of The Queen's College. Thomson was educated at Worsley's School in Hendon and Eton College, and then attended New College, Oxford where a fellow Undergraduate was Montague John Druitt, the man named as the prime suspect in the Jack the Ripper case by Chief Constable Melville Macnaghten in a Scotland Yard document dated 1894. (Thomson replaced Macnaghten as Head of CID at Scotland Yard in 1913. ) Thomson ended his university studies after two terms, after suffering bouts of depression, and spent some time from 1881 to 1882 in the United States, working as a farmer in Iowa. In 1883, with the promise of marriage to a Grace Webber should he be financially secure, Thomson secured a cadet position at the Colonial Office, where he assisted Sir William Des V ux, then Governor of Fiji. Arriving in Fiji in early 1884, and set about learning the Fijian and Tongan languages while appointed as a stipendiary magistrate throughout the islands. When Sir William MacGregor was appointed administrator of British New Guinea, Thomson joined his staff until he was invalided back to England after contracting malaria. Back in England, Thomson married Grace Webber in 1890, returning to Fiji with his wife in the middle of that year to serve as commissioner of native lands. When Sir John Thurston, the Governor of Fiji, dismissed the Premier of Tonga (Shirley Waldemar Baker) in his capacity as High Commissioner of the Western Pacific, Thomson was moved to Tonga, where he became assistant premier to Siaosi U. Tuku'aho, the pro-British chief appointed as Baker's replacement. After three years at the Native Lands Office in Suva, Thomson resigned from colonial service, and returned to England in 1893, due in no small part to the deteriorating health of his wife. There he embarked on a career as a writer, drawing on his experiences in the South Sea Islands to produce South Sea Yarns (1894; written in Fiji), The Diversions of a Prime Minister (1894, about his government work in Tonga), and The Indiscretions of Lady Asenath (1898). Basil Thomson used his Fijian assistants to organize the first ever done census of Fijian marriage on Viti Levu. He found that the Fijians did not marry, as claimed in the specialized literature, their mother's brother's daughter, but married any girl and recalculated her kinship status after the marriage so as to address her by the term meaning mother's brother's daughter. This result was anathema to Radcliffe-Brown's anthropology school and was ignored. Later, Levi-Strauss would not take it into account either. But anthropologists of the time would not try to build any complete census of any culture trait. The result was that their material was partly insufficiently documented, but they would not recognize it, even today. In the mid-1890s, Thomson read for the bar examinations at the Inner Temple, and was admitted to the bar in 1896. Instead of becoming a barrister, Thomson accepted the position of deputy governor at HM Prison Liverpool, after his name was suggested for the post due to a personal acquaintance with Sir Evelyn Ruggles-Brise, a fellow Old Etonian who had stayed with Thomson in Tonga. Over the next twelve years, he served as governor of Northampton, Cardiff, Dartmoor, and Wormwood Scrubs prisons. From 1908 to 1913, he served as secretary of the Prison Commission. In 1899, the United Kingdom and Germany made an agreement formalizing each country's rights and claims over Tonga and Samoa respectively. Given his inside knowledge of Tongan politics, Thomson was tasked with expediting the establishment of a British p. Bookseller Inventory # 68262

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Scene Changes

Publisher: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc, Garden City, N.Y.

Publication Date: 1937

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Good. No dust jacket

Edition: 1st Edition

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