Du Val (Charles)


And Personal Reminiscences of the Transvaal War

Published: Tinsley Brothers, London, 1882

Edition: First Edition

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First edition: 2 volumes - volume I, viii, 290 pages, volume II, vii, 230 pages, frontispieces in both volumes, numerous black and white plates and text illustrations, original dark brown cloth decorated in red on the covers and spine and with gilt titling, brown cloth hinges, two book plates on the front paste-down endpaper, contents bright, a very good copy.

Mendelssohn (Sydney) South African Bibliography, volume 1, page 505: Mr. Du Val Was a well-known entertainer and his visit to the Cape were in connection with his profession. After some stay in Cape Town he pursued his way to the north, and there is an account of the coach journey from Beaufort West to Kimberley, with an animated description of the diamond fields. From Kimberley the author travelled through the Free State and the Eastern Province to Natal, giving a humorous and good-natured account of his adventures, with excellent character sketches of many prominent men encountered by him in his various journeys, amongst whom may be mentioned Bishop Colenso, Alfred Aylward, Sir Owen Lanyon, and Joubert. On his arrival in the Transvaal he found the country on the verge of the rebellion which soon after broke out, and he gives an intelligent account of the existing political situation.

The volumes contain an excellent account of the siege of Pretoria, and curious details, unrecorded elsewhere, make the work of the utmost value to students of the history of the country. There are a number of original illustrations, a sketch map showing the route from Durban to the Transvaal, and a rather scarce portrait of Kruger.

(Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Du Val, Charles Henry (1846–1889) by Vivien Allen. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/38676) 'Du Val, Charles Henry (1846–1889), entertainer, was born at Platt Terrace, Rusholme, Manchester, on 27 October 1846, the youngest child and only son of Irish parents, John Du Val, a schoolmaster, and his wife, Eliza Ann, née Murray. He was educated in Manchester and articled to a solicitor, but abandoned the law in 1864 to join Oldham repertory theatre. In 1865 he went to Dublin, where he devised and presented the first version of his one-man show Odds and Ends. A handsome man of middle height with brown wavy hair, he had a pleasant tenor voice, danced nimbly, and could mimic any accent: his impersonation of female characters was widely admired. He was adept at political satire and could hold the stage alone for two hours, provoking almost continual laughter. He wrote his own material, words, and music, and toured Ireland and Britain for more than ten years.

Du Val decided to take his show to South Africa, and set sail in November 1879. He was also acting as a special correspondent for the Weekly Irish Times. After a season in Cape Town, the Du Vals travelled throughout the country; Minnie, who was pregnant, returned to Ireland from Port Elizabeth. Du Val and his manager continued the tour, reaching Pretoria on 18 November 1880, where they were trapped by the Anglo-Transvaal War in the siege of the city until April 1881. Du Val joined the Pretoria Carabiniers and saw service in several engagements; he also edited the News of the Camp. After the siege was lifted he completed his tour, and arrived back in Dublin in October 1881. He resumed his performances and also lectured on his experiences in the war. His book With a Show through Southern Africa (1882) sold 25,000 copies in the first few weeks.

Du Val returned to South Africa in July 1885, but finding it deep in depression moved on to Mauritius, Ceylon, and India. In India he was commanded to appear before the nizam of Hyderabad and gave a gala performance for the viceroy on 12 January 1886. On his return home he moved from Dublin to London, where his second season opened on 30 July 1886, at the Prince's Theatre (later the Prince of Wales Theatre) in Coventry Street, Piccadilly. The show closed at the end of January 1887 because Du Val was suffering from laryngitis.

The Du Vals made a third, successful, tour of South Africa in 1888 and went on to Mauritius and Ceylon. Du Val was exhausted and ill on reaching Ceylon and the tour was abandoned. They sailed for home on 13 February 1889. Du Val seemed better, but on the evening of 22 February 1889, during the passage through the Red Sea, he became agitated and ran up on deck, saying he wanted a walk. He was never seen again. His death made headlines in London and South Africa; reports suggesting suicide were denied, but stigma attached itself to his memory. He left a personal estate amounting to over £3000 and was survived by his wife and daughter.'

  • Overall Condition: Very good
  • Size: 8vo (230 x 150 mm)
  • Sold By: Clarke's Africana & Rare Books
  • Contact Person: Paul Mills
  • Country: South Africa
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Telephone: 021 794 0600
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  • Trade Associations: ABA - ILAB, SABDA

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