Gladys Casely-Hayford

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Gladys Casely-Hayford

Gladys May Casely-Hayford (born May 11, 1904 in Axim , Gold Coast , † August 23, 1950 in Accra , ibid) was a Ghanaian-Sierra-Leonean writer , poet and artist . She was the first woman writer to write works in Krio .


Youth and education

Gladys Casely-Hayford was born on May 11, 1904 in Axim in what was then the British colony of Gold Coast (now Ghana) as the daughter of the Ghanaian politician Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford and the Sierra Leonean writer and feminist Adelaide Smith Casely Hayford . She spent the first few years alternately in the Gold Coast Colony and in England. Due to the long stays in England, partly due to the health problems of his daughter and mother, Joseph Casely-Hayford separated in 1914, Gladys stayed with her mother.

Gladys therefore moved with her mother to Freetown , where she attended the Annie Walsh Memorial School . It was then that she began writing poetry for the first time and her language skills are said to have impressed her teachers. Under pressure and the mother's request to give Gladys a better education, her father financed a school visit in England - Gladys moved to Wales at the age of 16 to attend the boarding school at Penrhos College . Without consulting the mother, father Joseph Casely-Herford later had his daughter sent to another school. At the latter she learned, among other things, the piano and composing.

First professional steps

In 1924 Gladys Casely-Hayford returned to the Gold Coast Colony, where she began to write as a journalist for the weekly newspaper The Gold Coast Leader founded by her father . In 1926, at her mother's request, Gladys moved to Freetown to work at The Girls' Vocational School, founded by her mother . She mainly taught "African folklore" and began to collect, rewrite and publish her first poems and stories. Some of her poems have appeared in the American magazine The Atlantic Monthly under her pseudonym Aqua Laluah. She then received an offer to study at the Radcliffe College for Women in Cambridge (Massachusetts, USA), but turned it down, to the displeasure of her mother. Gladys only accepted the second offer, at Columbia University in New York.

Stopovers in Europe

Their trip to New York (via London) took longer than planned because Gladys Casely-Hayford did not have enough money for an American visa. On her trip she also met a Cameroonian musician from a jazz band, fell in love with him and accompanied him and the band to Berlin for a while. Only after pressure from her mother did she leave the band in 1932 - which was meanwhile in Stockholm - and enrolled at Ruskin College in Oxford. However, due to health problems, she dropped out of studies, returned to Freetown and supported her mother again in the girls' school.

Marriage to Arthur Benoni Hunter

In 1935/36 Gladys met the traveler Arthur Benoni Hunter and left Freetown on the spur of the moment. After three years of travel, the couple arrived in Accra, where Gladys gave birth to their son PD Casely Hayford. The marriage quickly failed, however, and the couple separated upon returning to Freetown. Gladys preferred to continue writing poetry and published a small collection of poems entitled Take so . She then moved back to the Gold Coast Colony to work as a teacher.

Gladys Casely-Hayford died of malaria on August 23, 1950 in Accra .

It was included in the anthology Daughters of Africa , edited in 1992 by Margaret Busby in London and New York.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g Lucilda Hunter: Casely-Hayford, Gladys May . In: Emmanuel K. Akyeampong and Henry Louis Gates, Jr (Eds.): Dictionary of African Biography . tape 6 . Oxford Press, Oxford 2012, ISBN 978-0-19-538207-5 , pp. 42 ff .