Papers of Professor Alice Werner

Scope and Content

The collection comprises documents and papers relating to African languages and folklore, collected by Alice Werner. Includes several postcards to Archibald Tucker, discussing African language folklore.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alice Werner was born in Trieste on 26 June 1859. In her youth she lived in New Zealand, Mexico, USA and Europe. She was educated partly in Germany, and later in England, where she attended Newnham College, Cambridge University. Her interest in Africa began with visits to Nyasaland in 1893 and Natal in 1894. In 1899 she taught Afrikaans and Zulu in London. Between 1911-1913 she toured East Africa, where she came into contact with Swahili and other languages of the region. In 1917 she joined the School of Oriental Studies as one of the original members of staff, initially as Lecturer but later as Reader and eventually Professor of Swahili and Bantu languages. She continued in this position until her retirement at the end of the 1929/1930 session. During this time, she also taught at Oxford and Cambridge, in co-operation with her sister Mary Werner. In 1928, Alice Werner received the degree of D.Litt from the University of London. After her retirement in 1930, she received the title of Emeritus Professor from the same University. In 1931 she was awarded the Silver medal of the African Society, of which she was Vice-President. She died on 9 June 1935. Alice Werner made contributions on African subjects to the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies , in addition to other journals. She also produced works on African philology and mythology. Her own publications included: The Natives of British Central Africa (1906); The Language Families of Africa (1915); A Swahili History of Pate (1915); Introductory Sketch of the Bantu Languages (1919); The Swahili Saga of Liongo Fumo (1926); Swahili Tales (1929); Structure and Relationship of African Languages (1930); The Story of Miqdad and Mayasa (1932), and Myths and Legends of the Bantu (1933). She also translated a number of works.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Transferred from the Africa department at SOAS in 1983.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance

Related Material

Tucker, Archibald Norman [ref. PP MS 43]