Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Dennett mss., ca. 1885-1910, consists of the personal papers of author and businessman Richard Edward Dennett (1857-1921). Dennett was born in Valparaiso, Chile, but was educated in England at the Marlborough School from 1869-1874. After completing his education, Dennett began working for Thomas Wilson, Sons & Co., a shipping company based in Kingston-upon-Hull. In 1879, Dennett left England and began working in West Africa for the Hatton & Cookson trading company. During this time he started writing a newspaper called the Congo Mirror, in which he addressed human rights issues faced by the Congolese people. Dennett wrote and published three books and numerous articles between 1886 and 1906. His writings focus on African culture, language and religion, though he wrote other articles discussing trade. In 1918, Dennett returned to England; he died in 1921.

The collection is arranged into the following series: I. Biographical Information; II. Research Materials; III. Writings. Biographical information details Dennett's education, career in Africa and published works. Research materials include notes and charts from Dennett's studies relating to West African languages, cultures, customs and religions. Notes also contain information on Dennett's commercial activities in West Africa.

The Writings series includes notes and outlines during various stages of Dennett's work. Drafts include handwritten and typed copies with revisions. While his writings focus on West African ethnography, these articles lead from factual information to Dennett's own hypothetical speculations on religion and government.

An inventory is available

Acquired: 2008

Collection size: 1,500 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.