The subject, a big-game hunter and imperialist of the Victorian age, posed challenges aplenty for modern opinion; but discovering for myself the Central African wilderness where Selous spent his life, in particular the sublime Zambezi valley; and exploring his paradoxical character – he was an early advocate of conservation, immersed himself in tribal society and acted as a restraining hand on the colonial ambitions of Cecil Rhodes – revealed more complex human layers. At bottom, Selous’s life was worth retelling as an adventure story, a galloping yarn. When jingoistic fervour was at its height he braved ferocious criticism for his spirited stand against the Boer War, before falling in action at the age of 64 in the Great War. He lies in the game reserve in modern Tanzania that bears his name.
 

Reviews 

“Stephen Taylor’s well-written biography provides a story in the Boys’ Own tradition. Frederick Selous was widely believed to have been the model for Rider Haggard’s hero, Alan Quatermain ... Taylor handles the ripping yarns as skilfully as he does the genesis of Selous’s rough existence on the frontier ... It is one of the author’s many achievements that he recreates the dangerous times of the great white hunter, and the attitudes and actions of imperialist settlers in black Africa while maintaining a historian’s distance from the values of the age ... The result is an integrated book and an excellent biography.”
Mark Cocker, The Sunday Times

 

“There is material here for a ripping biography; and Stephen Taylor’s life of Selous is indeed a spiffing yarn ... He has also written a comprehensive, witty and perceptive book.”

The Independent

 

“Stephen Taylor’s book is enthusiastic, sympathetic and admirably fair. He has brought alive a Victorian hero, an enigmatic, mythogenic figure ... a sportsman, enlightened imperialist, a keystone in the bridge between black and white races, an explorer of renown and a symbol for conservation.”

Scotland on Sunday

 

“Within a most competent and readable biography, his first book and worthy of his exciting subject, Stephen Taylor produces an excellent history of Southern Africa ... Taylor leaves us with all our boyhood enthusiasm and adds to it considerable admiration for Selous’s more serious role in Africa.”

The Birmingham Post

 

“Taylor’s biography is the first since J.G.Millais’s somewhat hagiographical work published in 1918. Readers will find it was worth the wait.”

– Financial Times 

THE MIGHTY NIMROD

A Life of Frederick Courteney Selous,
African Hunter and Adventurer 

Collins, London, 1989

The idea for my first book was planted when I was a foreign correspondent in Africa and discovered Selous’s papers in the Zimbabwe archives.

THE MIGHTY NIMROD

A Life of Frederick Courteney Selous,
African Hunter and Adventurer

Collins, London, 1989
 

The idea for my first book was planted when I was a foreign correspondent in Africa and discovered Selous’s papers in the Zimbabwe archives. The subject, a big-game hunter and imperialist of the Victorian age, posed challenges aplenty for modern opinion; but discovering for myself the Central African wilderness where Selous spent his life, in particular the sublime Zambezi valley; and exploring his paradoxical character – he was an early advocate of conservation, immersed himself in tribal society and acted as a restraining hand on the colonial ambitions of Cecil Rhodes – revealed more complex human layers. At bottom, Selous’s life was worth retelling as an adventure story, a galloping yarn. When jingoistic fervour was at its height he braved ferocious criticism for his spirited stand against the Boer War, before falling in action at the age of 64 in the Great War. He lies in the game reserve in modern Tanzania that bears his name.
 

Reviews 

“Stephen Taylor’s well-written biography provides a story in the Boys’ Own tradition. Frederick Selous was widely believed to have been the model for Rider Haggard’s hero, Alan Quatermain ... Taylor handles the ripping yarns as skilfully as he does the genesis of Selous’s rough existence on the frontier ... It is one of the author’s many achievements that he recreates the dangerous times of the great white hunter, and the attitudes and actions of imperialist settlers in black Africa while maintaining a historian’s distance from the values of the age ... The result is an integrated book and an excellent biography.”
Mark Cocker, The Sunday Times

 

“There is material here for a ripping biography; and Stephen Taylor’s life of Selous is indeed a spiffing yarn ... He has also written a comprehensive, witty and perceptive book.”

The Independent

 

“Stephen Taylor’s book is enthusiastic, sympathetic and admirably fair. He has brought alive a Victorian hero, an enigmatic, mythogenic figure ... a sportsman, enlightened imperialist, a keystone in the bridge between black and white races, an explorer of renown and a symbol for conservation.”

Scotland on Sunday

 

“Within a most competent and readable biography, his first book and worthy of his exciting subject, Stephen Taylor produces an excellent history of Southern Africa ... Taylor leaves us with all our boyhood enthusiasm and adds to it considerable admiration for Selous’s more serious role in Africa.”

The Birmingham Post

 

“Taylor’s biography is the first since J.G.Millais’s somewhat hagiographical work published in 1918. Readers will find it was worth the wait.”

– Financial Times 

Stephen Taylor