Professor Jones was a Sierra Leonean academic and literary critic known for his book Othello’s Countrymen: A Study of Africa in the Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama.
He was a former principal of Fourah Bay College. He died at 1am today, Saturday 21 March 2020, aged 95 years.
Eldred Durosimi Jones was known internationally as being central to the establishment of the study of African writing in the new universities of Africa, Britain and North America.
The annual ‘African Literature Today’ of which he was founding editor in 1968, was a key marker of this growth. In addition, his book – ‘Othello’s Countrymen’ introduced Africa into Shakespeare studies.
Born on 6 January 1925, the account of his early years gives a vivid picture of growing up in Freetown in the latter days of British colonial rule. He was an exceptional young man who was able to take advantage of the unusual style of this city-state.
He studied in two of the historic institutions of Equatorial Africa, the CMS Grammar School and Fourah Bay College to which young men flocked from all over the region, earning Freetown the title -‘The Athens of West Africa’.
After further studies at Oxford, Eldred Jones committed himself to his own country and it was appropriate that for over thirty years he was successively – Lecturer, Professor, Principal and Pro-Vice Chancellor of Fourah Bay College in Freetown, which had been set up in 1827 and was the first university college in Africa south of the Sahara.
He lost his sight in his middle years and this book, like all his later written work, has been brought to the page by his wife Marjorie Jones. Her gift for story-telling about their lives, as Sierra Leone was gripped by civil war, has added to this highly individual book.
Eldred Jones led a remarkable and distinguished life – personally and professionally, but also contributed to the social and educational developments in Sierra Leone over the best part of a century.
Eldred Jones was Emeritus Professor of English Language and Literature, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, recipient of the Royal Society of Arts Silver Medal, Honorary Fellow, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and joint winner (with Marjorie) of the African Studies Association of the UK Distinguished Africanist Award.
About the author
Prof. Dr. Eustace Palmer is retired Deputy Head of the English Department of Fourah Bay College.