John Donnelly Fage
|Born||3 June 1921|
Teddington, Middlesex, England
|Died||6 August 2002 (aged 81)|
Machynlleth, Powys, Wales
|Alma mater||Cambridge University|
|Notable works||A History of Africa (1978)|
Fage was born in 1921 in Teddington, Middlesex, England. He attended Cambridge University (Magdalene College) for his undergraduate studies, Master's and Ph.D. (1949, The achievement of self-government in southern Rhodesia, 1898-1923).
After his post-graduate studies, Fage joined the newly founded University of Gold Coast (now University of Ghana) at Accra, which was formed under the Asquith Commission and had a 'scheme of special relationship' with the University of London. He spent a decade here (1949-1959), developing his interest in the history of Western Africa, and particularly the African Slave Trade, on which he was to publish extensively over the coming decade. The University started facing funding problems after 1955, and many of the senior Cambridge staff left.
In 1957, after Ghana gained independence, he was appointed its Deputy Principal. However, in 1959 he returned to Britain to join the School of Oriental and African Studies (1959-1963) and then the University of Birmingham, where he founded the Centre of West African Studies (CWAS). Here he spent two very productive decades (1963-1984), holding several senior administrative posts including Vice-Principal (1981-1984).
Fage's early work includes Introduction to the History of West Africa (Cambridge University Press 1955, three editions), which was rewritten as A History of West Africa: An introductory survey (Cambridge U.P. 1969). His An Atlas of African History (London: Edward Arnold 1958) is a widely known reference (2nd ed. 1978). The ambitious 600-page A History of Africa (London: Hutchinson 1978), covers the entire continent from the Neolithic to the late twentieth century, was widely referenced (4th ed. Routledge 2002).
In a long collaboration with Roland Oliver (who was his contemporary at Cambridge and visited him in Ghana), he founded the Journal of African History, and also edited the authoritative eight-volume Cambridge history of Africa, (1975 to 1986). Their Short History of Africa (Penguin 1962) ran to six editions (1988), and has been translated into twelve languages. Fage died, aged 81, at Machynlleth, Wales.