02 June, 2012

Charles T. Stoneham

Charles Thurley Stoneham was an author, naturalist and big-game hunter. 

Stoneham was born in India in 1895 and attended Brighton College in England. After the death of his father he ran away from home at the age of 17 to seek adventure in Canada and the U.S. in the years prior to the Great War. He enlisted in 1915 with the 25th Regiment of the Royal Fusiliers and was shipped to British East Africa where he experienced fierce combat and forced marches. Although invalided out to recuperate in South Africa, he later rejoined the East African Campaign, meeting up with British Forces in Tanganyika. After the war, and a further period of convalescence in South Africa, Stoneham settled in British East Africa. Stoneham resided for many years in the Laikipia region of Kenya. After working both alone and in partnership with another young Englishman, Stoneham eventually ended up managing a safari outfitting business. 

Inspired by his years in Kenya in the 1920s, Stoneham began writing stories about 
the wild animals that inhabited the land he came to know so well. He sold his first short story in 1926, but a number of years were to pass before Stoneham began selling stories regularly. In 1930, after spending many years in Kenya, Stoneham and his wife moved to South Africa and lived for a time in Cape Town. In this period he managed to sell articles and stories to various South African newspapers including the Cape Times.

Returning to England in 1931, Stoneham, who was greatly encouraged by the author and Daily Mail literary editor Heath Hosken, eventually managed to start selling short stories to various periodicals on a regular basis. Having already sold a few tales in previous years to journals such as The Tatler andHutchinson's Adventure-Story Magazine, Stoneham began to contribute regularly to newspapers including the Daily Mail and The Star, as well as the magazines Chambers's Journal, Good Housekeeping and Top-Notch. From the early 1930s through the 1960s he sold hundreds of short stories about the wild animals of Africa to the London Evening News, while other stories appeared in magazines such as Everybody's Magazine and Norman Kark'sCourier. After the publication of his first novel The Man in the Pig Mask (1929), Stoneham began to write novels and non-fiction books about Africa. Among these were Wanderings in Wild Africa (1932), The Black Leopard (1934) and Jungle Prince (1938). Major success came Stoneham's way when his superb novel The Lion’s Way (1931), about a boy brought up by lions, was made into the Hollywood film King of the Jungle (1933).

During the early years of the Second World War, Stoneham lived with his wife Kay and his son Michael in a cottage on Portland Bill, near Weymouth. The area was an important naval base and a target for numerous German bombing raids during 1940. Stoneham gained employment with the Admiralty in the Anti-Submarine Stores Department and witnessed several enemy attacks on the harbour. Later on in the war, Stoneham relocated to Bath in Somerset and found little time to write, although he still managed to publish two western novels and sell dozens of stories to the London Evening News.

Having spent the better part of two decades in England, Stoneham returned with his family to his beloved Kenya (formerly British East Africa) in 1947. During the late 1940s and 1950s Stoneham was a prolific author, producing dozens of novels, short stories, articles and non-fiction books. A number of his most fascinating books about Africa were published in the 1950s.  In addition to their dramatic quality, Stoneham's African novels are full of local colour and background and provide many insights into the modern history of Central East Africa. Stoneham also wrote a series of mystery novels and westerns under the pen-name Norgrove Thurley, as well as various juvenile stories written for such magazines as Boy's Own Paper

His autobiography From Hobo to Hunter was published in 1956.

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