Amos Tutuola (20 June 1920 – 8 June 1997) was a Nigerian writer famous for his books based in part on Yoruba folk-tales.Tutuola was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, in 1920, where his parents Charles and Esther were Yoruba Christian cocoa farmers. When about seven years old, he became a servant for F. O. Monu, an Igbo man, who sent Tutuola to the Salvation Army primary school in lieu of wages. At age 12 he attended the Anglican Central School in Abeokuta. His brief education was limited to six years (from 1934 to 1939).
When his father died in 1939, Tutuola left school to train as a blacksmith, which trade he practised from 1942 to 1945 for the Royal Air Force in Nigeria. He subsequently tried a number of other vocations, including selling bread and acting as messenger for the Nigerian Department of Labor. In 1946, Tutuola completed his first full-length book, The Palm-Wine Drinkard, within a few days. In 1947 he married Victoria Alake, with whom he had four sons and four daughters.
Despite his short formal education, Tutuola wrote his novels in English. After he had written his first three books and become internationally famous, he joined the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in 1956 as a storekeeper in Ibadan, Western Nigeria. Tutuola also became one of the founders of Mbari Club, the writers’ and publishers’ organization. In 1979, he held a visiting research fellowship at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) at Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and in 1983 he was an associate of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. In retirement he divided his time between residences at Ibadan and Ago-Odo.
Many of his papers, letters, and holographic manuscripts have been collected at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin.Tutuola’s most famous novel, The Palm-Wine Drinkard and his Dead Palm-Wine Tapster in the Deads’ Town, was written in 1946, first published in 1952 in London by Faber and Faber, then translated and published in Paris as L’Ivrogne dans la brousse by Raymond Queneau in 1953.
The noted poet Dylan Thomas brought it to wide attention, calling it “brief, thronged, grisly and bewitching”. Although the book was praised in England and the United States, it faced severe criticism in Tutuola’s native Nigeria. Part of this criticism was due to his use of “broken English” and primitive style, which supposedly promoted the Western stereotype of “African backwardness”. This line of criticism has, however, lost steam.
- Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane – 20 June 1920 – died 3 February 1969
- Amos Tutuola – 20 June 1920 –died 8 June 1997
- Everette Lynn Harris – 20 June 1955 –died 23 July 2009
- Charles Waddell Chesnutt – 20 June 1858 –died 15 November 1932
- Aqiil Gopee – 22 June 1997
- Octavia Estelle Butler – 22 June 1947 – died 24 February 2006
- Zulu Sofola 22 June 1935 –died 5 September 1995
- Pamela Thomas-Graham – 24 June 1963
- Patrick Fani Chakaipa – 25 June 1932 – died 8 April 2003
- Vincent Gordon Harding – 25 July 1931 –died 19 May 2014
- Fran Ross – 25 June 1935 –died 17 September 1985