Hichens, William

Scope and Content

Collected papers, 1792-1943 (some undated), manuscript and typescript, of William Hichens, largely dating from the 1930s, comprising Swahili stories, verses, histories, and vocabularies, including transcriptions and translations of sources, and some correspondence of Hichens relating to Swahili literature.

Administrative / Biographical History

Employed in the Kenya administration; collector and editor of Swahili manuscripts; his research into Swahili was extensively based on correspondence and collaboration with other scholars, notably Sir Mbarak Ali Hinawy (Liwali of the Coast), Muhammed bin Abu Bakr Kijumwa of Lamu, and Alice Werner; his interests included the history of Swahili poetry, translation of Swahili poetry, and the history of the east African coast; of his verse translations from Swahili only a small proportion were published; his Azania Press (at Medstead, Hampshire) published Swahili literature; died in Mombasa, 1944. Publications: edited The Azanian Classics (2 volumes, Azania Press, Medstead, 1932-1934); with Alice Werner, The Advice of Mwana Kupona upon the Wifely Duty (Azania Press, Medstead, 1934); Diwani ya Muyaka bin Haji al-Ghassaniy. Pamoja na khabari za maisha yake ambazo zimehadithiwa ni W Hichens (Johannesburg, 1940). Identification of the collector of these manuscripts as the businessman William Lionel Hichens (1874-1940), suggested by some bibliographic data, is uncertain.

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Various, including donation from Mrs E Hichens in 1945.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue records can be found on the Swahili Manuscripts On-line Catalogue, School of Oriental and African Studies.

Custodial History

William Hichens's collection included manuscripts from the collections of the Swahili scholars W E Taylor and Alice Werner.

Related Material

The School of Oriental and African Studies holds other collections on Swahili and other African languages, including papers of J W T Allen (Ref: PP MS 20), W E Taylor (various references), Alice Werner (Ref: MS 380393), and W H Whiteley (Ref: PP MS 42).