by Tim Couzens (1992)
When an elderly itinerant trader from a doss house in Johannesburg turned up on the veranda of novelist Ethelreda Lewis's suburban home, she was so enthralled by his reminiscences that she turned them into a biographical narrative which became the world bestseller for 1927. Popular though the book was, it did not take long before the veracity of Lewis's tale about Trader Horn was being called into question by many who believed the work was fiction, or a hoax. In "Tramp Royal", by means of a piece of biographical detective work, Tim Couzens picks up the fading trail of Aloysius Smith, alias Trader Horn, from Lancashire in the 1860s, through the frontiers of Africa, Buffalo Bill's America, Cockney London in the 1890s, gunrunning in Madagascar, the Boer War in South Africa to the doss house in Johannesburg. It is the tale of an unquenchable free spirit forever in search of adventure and Couzens tells it with a verve and enjoyment entirely appropriate to the larger-than-life character he celebrates.
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