Protean Paradox: George Edward Cory (1862-1935) negotiating life and South African history / by Sandra Rowoldt Shell. Available from Cory Library R300.00 includes postage and packing or R200.00 price of book purchase in person in Cory Library. Please email us here.
"George Edward Cory, one of South Africa's pioneer historians, was a man of paradoxes. Though abandoned and neglected throughout his childhood, with chutzpah and unceasing hard work he secured a decent schooling for himself and eventually reached his scholarly goal: a place in Cambridge University. His chosen field was science, primarily chemistry. With his degree secured, he sought a position, finding an unexpected opportunity to teach in a school in far-off Grahamstown, South Africa. Assuming the Chair of Chemistry in the newly founded Rhodes University College, he laid the foundations for the study of chemistry, but devoted his spare time to an exploration of the history of his adopted country. This hobby became a consuming passion resulting in his multi-volume The Rise of South Africa. He envisaged the professionalisation of the historian's profession, was a pioneer of oral history and promoted the role of the public historian. Gathering documents to preserve them for the use of future scholars, he moved, as retirement loomed, into the role of archivist at national level. Cambridge awarded him a doctorate in 1921 and he was knighted in 1922. This biography follows Cory's paradoxical life, exploring what drove him, what he achieved, the tensions between chemistry and history, his contribution to South African historiography and his enduring legacy, culminating in the founding of the Cory Library for Humanities Research, Grahamstown. This engrossing story delivers a strong message of the importance of self-belief and self-determination. This protean man trod a path less trodden, as this biography demonstrates in vivid detail." Professor Christopher Saunders.