Gerald Moore obituary | Africa
My father, Gerald Moore, who has died aged 98, was a scholar of anglophone and francophone literature written by Africans. He wrote a number of books on the subject, including The Chosen Tongue (1969), Twelve African Writers (1980) and a biography of the Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka (1971).
He also co-edited, with the German scholar Ulli Beier, The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry in 1963, working on its revised edition in 1984. In addition he made many recordings of African musicians on field trips during the 1950s and 60s, and these are now held in a collection at the British Library.
Gerald was born in Chiswick, west London, to Rex Moore, an exhibitions officer, and his wife, Norah (nee Sturdee), an actor. He went to Dauntsey’s boarding school in Wiltshire and at 17 joined the Royal Navy, serving in the Atlantic and Arctic convoys during the second world war. Towards the end of hostilities he was sent to teach politics to other British servicemen who were stationed in the far east.
That posting gave him both a love of teaching and of travel, and after obtaining a first-class degree in English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and marrying Joy Fisher, a librarian, in 1949, he took up a series of overseas posts as an English lecturer – at Port Harcourt University in Nigeria (1953-56), at Hong Kong University (1956-60) and at Makerere College in Kampala, Uganda (1960-66). In each case he worked for the university’s extra-mural studies department, travelling out into the country to teach students – and at Makerere College he was director of extra-mural studies.
In 1966 he returned with his young family to England, where he became a reader at the School of African and Asian Studies at Sussex University, arranging for African writers to visit the campus and setting up exhibitions for various artists from Africa. In 1972 he met Miriam Garzitto, an Italian who was studying for a PhD at Sussex, and the following year he was divorced from my mother.
On a year’s sabbatical, Gerald and Miriam travelled together to the US before he left Sussex University to take up a number of professorships in Nigeria, including at the universities of Port Harcourt, Ife and Jos. Eventually he and Miriam settled in Miriam’s home town of Udine, where Gerald taught translators at Trieste University. He also continued to pursue his academic interests and took up a visiting fellowship at the University of Texas, even though by that time he was well into his 80s.
After Miriam died in 2010, Dad returned to Sussex to live near the rest of his family. As a committed socialist, he enjoyed being back in the political swing of things, and continued to take an interest in current affairs.
He is survived by three children, Nick and me, from his first marriage, and Matteo, from his second, and by four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.