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Hichens, William

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0102 MSS 34882, 47707-8, 47770, 47779, 47781, 47796-7, 53489-98, 53500-5, 53507-9, 53823-7, 53829, 54342, 193290-2, 196884, 205000, 210002-11, 210013-14, 228624, 253028-9, 256191, 263325
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies
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Full title: Hichens, William
Date(s): 1792-1943
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 59 files
Name of creator(s): Hichens | William | d 1944 | Swahili scholar


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.


Scope and content/abstract:

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.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
Swahili, with some Arabic and English. Mainly Arabic script, some Roman.

System of arrangement:

Some files contain more than one item.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids:

Incomplete handlist. Cataloguing is in progress under the Swahili Manuscripts Project at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Archival Information

Archival history:

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

Immediate source of acquisition:

Various, including donation from Mrs E Hichens in 1945.

Allied Materials

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).

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Sources: P J L Frankl, 'W E Taylor (1856-1927): England's greatest Swahili scholar', AAP, lx (1999), p 170; information from Annmarie Drury, Swahili Manuscripts Project, School of Oriental and African Studies; information from the Bodleian Library on William Lionel Hichens;
British Library OPAC:
Library of Congress OPAC:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Jul 2002

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