If you’re a fan of international and world literature then you’re probably familiar with the works of Chinua Achebe. If you’re not, then we have some information that can be enlightening and perhaps point you in a new direction for discovering the beauty and educational value in exploring the works of this talented author of African literature. Here are ten things that you didn’t know about Chinua Achebe that we hope will inspire you to check further into his contributions to the world.
1. Chinua Achebe was a Nigerian writer
Achebe was born on November 16th in 1930. His hometown was the village of Igbo in Ogdi. His parents’ names were Isaiah Okafo Achebe and Janet Anaenechi Iloegbunam. Chinua became best known for this novel “Things Fall Apart. The book became the most widely read in all of African literature.
2. He was unusually gifted at an early age
Chinua attended school as a child and started in 1936 at the age of six at St. Philips’ Central School. He wasn’t in class long before he was moved into a higher grade level because it was obvious that he was highly intelligent and required work that was more challenging than the other children in his age group. His brother was a teacher at Central School which was about 4 kilometers in distance from St. Phillips. He moved when he was 12 years old so he could attend the school where his brother was an educator. Upon completion of his studies at Central School, he attended a very prestigious institution called Government College in Umuahia. It was a school that was reserved for only the most promising students in all of Nigeria. After completing studies there, he studied at the University College in Ibadan where he majored in medicine. He switched his major to English and made the decision to instead, become a writer.
3. Achebe published his first work while still attending college
Chinua hadn’t even completed his degree in English before he had written his first short story. It as titled “In a Village Church.” He was on his way to a bright and promising career, but the writing didn’t pay the bills, so after his 1954 graduation from the University, he became a teacher for his primary career. He taught at the Merchants of Light School in Oba.
4. He took a hiatus from teaching
Chinua Achebe was offered a position as the Director of External Broadcasting by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation located in Lagos. He quit his teaching position to accept the job, which paid a lot more. Then, in 1958, a friend of Achebe’s named Gilbert Phelps suggested an agent help him get his novel “Things Fall Apart” published. This was a fortuitous event. Chinua took his recommendation to heart and submitted his manuscript, which was accepted, and the rest is history, so to speak.
5. His initial attempts to get “Things Fall Apart” resulted in multiple rejections
No doubt, the scores of publishers who rejected Achebe’s initial submissions of his novel for consideration kicked themselves for turning it down. There were several publishers who refused to put the book into print. The book was read by a Heinemann educational advisor who told him that it was the best novel he had read since the war. Immediately after its approval, 2,000 copies of the book were printed and it was also translated into fifty different languages and soon, over eight million copies were in circulation around the world.
6. He followed up with two more best selling novels
Achebe’s first novel was a great success. He continued writing after the 1959 publication of his first book with a 1960 publication of “No Longer at Ease” and just four years later with his third novel “Arrow of God” in 1964. In between the second and third publications, he married Christiana Chinwe Okoli in 1961 on September 10th. The couple started a family and raised several children together and many grandchildren to follow.
7. His fourth novel was published in 1966
Chinua Achebe’s fourth novel was titled “A Man of People.” This work was readily accepted for publication and was made available to the public in 1966. His success as a writer and his popularity in the literary world continued to grow throughout the world. This novel brought a host of troubles with the military because the infamous novel is a writing that foreshadowed the coup that took place in his homeland. Achebe sent his wife and kids to safety in Port Harcourt, where he shortly followed.
8. He also wrote children’s literature
Achebe’s first children’s book was titled “Chike and the River.” It was published in 1966 along with his fourth novel. He continued writing kids’ books and followed up with “How the Leopard Got His Claws,” published in 1972, then with “The Flute” in 1975 and in 1978, “The Drum” was published. It was a period of nearly a decade before his fifth novel “Anthills of the Savannah” was published in 1987.
9. He was a highly celebrated author
Chinua Achebe was bestowed with several honors for his contributions to the world of literature. He received the distinguished Nigerian National Order of Merit as well as the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, The Man Booker International Prize, and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. He was also appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund in 1999.
10. He was a lifelong educator
Chinua Achebe taught through his entire life. He as a distinguished professor at the University of Nigeria. In addition to this, he also taught in the United States at Bard College in New York, and at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He was awarded over 30 honorary degrees from universities throughout the world. The world lost one of its most brilliant and distinguished authors and educators on March 21, 2013, when he passed away in Boston, Massachusetts at the age of 82.