I admit, somewhat joyously* it must be said, that this is a new one on me – Lafcadio Hearn, a Greek-Irish author who spent most of his career in the United States and became a renowned expert on Japanese culture, so much so that he is also known in some parts as Koizumi Yakumo.
Hearn, who was born in Greece in 1850 and spent his formative years in Ireland, is the subject of a two-part series on RTE Lyric FM over the next eight days.
The Wikipedia page dedicated to him includes some incredibly brilliant one-line anecdotes, including:
Writing with creative freedom in one of Cincinnati’s largest circulating newspapers, he became known for his lurid accounts of local murders [which became so well known that] the Library of America selected one of these, ‘Gibbeted’, for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American True Crime, published in 2008.
At the age of 24, while living in Cincinnati, Hearn and the artist Henry Farny wrote, illustrated, and published a weekly journal of art, literature and satire called “Ye Giglampz”, while he later lost his job with the local paper for the then crime of marrying an African-American woman.
He moved to New Orleans and through his writings about the Creole people and Louisiana’s distinctive cuisine, culture, and voodoo beliefs he is credited with inventing the modern reputation of that city.
Hearn moved on to the West Indies and eventually Japan, where he spent the last 14 years of his life (he died at the age of 54), the last eight of which under the name Koizumi Yakumo following his naturalisation.
It promises to be an incredible story, told over two hour-long features on Lyric FM starting this Friday at 7pm.
* I knew nothing about Lafcadio Hearn yesterday. Every day in this life can bring great discoveries, and if that isn’t something to be joyous about then I don’t know what is.