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Lafcadio Hearn

Lafcadio Hearn , also called (from 1895) Koizumi Yakumo (born June 27, 1850, Levkás, Ionian Islands, Greece—died Sept. 26, 1904, Ōkubo, Japan), writer, translator, and teacher who introduced the culture and literature of Japan to the West.

Hearn grew up in Dublin. After a brief and spasmodic education in England and France, he immigrated to the United States at 19. He settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, working at various menial jobs and then on the Trade List, a business weekly. Eventually he became a reporter for The Cincinnati Enquirer and later for The Cincinnati Commercial, where he contributed prose poems and scholarly essays on themes unusual for that time, such as life among urban blacks. While in Cincinnati he translated stories from the French writer Théophile Gautier under the title One of Cleopatra’s Nights (1882) and Gustave Flaubert’s Temptation of St. Anthony (published posthumously). In 1877 Hearn went to New Orleans to write a series of articles on Louisiana politics for the Commercial and remained there, writing for the Item (later the Times-Democrat), contributing translations of French authors, original stories and sketches, and adaptations from foreign literature. The latter made up two of his earliest works—Stray Leaves from Strange Literature (1884) and Some Chinese Ghosts (1887). The scope of his articles varied widely; he wrote on Buddhism and Islām and on French and Russian literature. His editorials ranged from scientific topics to articles on anti-Semitism in Russia and France. Chita (1889), an adventure novel about the only survivor of a tidal wave, dates from this time.

From 1887 to 1889, Hearn was in the West Indies on assignment for Harper’s Magazine, which resulted in Two Years in the French West Indies (1890) and his novel Youma (1890), a highly original story of a slave insurrection.

In 1890 Hearn traveled to Japan for Harper’s. He soon broke with the magazine and worked as a schoolteacher in Izumo in northern Japan. There he met Setsuko Koizumi, a Japanese lady of high Samurai

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