Things Fall Apart:
An introduction
A novel by Chinua Achebe
Nigeria: British Colony
Area been occupied since at least 9000
BCE
 Portuguese established port: Lagos – used
to trade slaves
 After Napoleonic Wars, British began
trade, took over as colonial power in 1885
 British divided the area into two sections
and set up colonial government
 Several wars fought between British and
Nigerians in 1897 and 1901-1902
 Nigeria was not independent until Oct.,
1960

Chinua Achebe
1930-present
Achebe
Born in southeastern Nigeria, Igbo village
 Raised by Christian parents
 Won a scholarship to attend Government
College, set up by British colonial
government; began to discover literature
 Attended new University College in
Nigeria, again set up by British

After graduation Achebe began teaching but left
after a few months to take a job with the
Nigerian Broadcasting Service where he wrote
scripts
 Also began working on his own novel, in English
 1956 he was selected to go to London for
training at the BBC – first trip outside Nigeria
 Brought manuscript with him, received feedback
and offer for publishing, which he declined,
saying manuscript needed more work

The birth of Things Fall Apart

1958 had final copy of manuscript, which
he sent to London: Things Fall Apart
– Name comes from poem by Yeats
Initially rejected by several publishers who
felt African fiction had no market base
 Finally printed in June, 1958; received
very good reviews from British press
 In Nigeria, could not believe one of their
students had written a meaningful novel

Nigerian Independence
Achebe went on to write another novel,
No Longer at Ease, which follows the
grandson of Okonkwo, the protagonist of
Things Fall Apart, set as Nigeria becomes
independent
 Was director of NBS as Nigeria became
independent

Achebe: Voice of African writers
Achebe began to play a role in advancing
other African literature
 Became General Editor for African Writers
Series at Heinemann
 Achebe published two more novels, both
touching on the effect of colonization on
traditional African culture:

– Arrow of God, 1964
– A Man of the People, 1966
Civil War
1967, southeast
region of Nigeria
broke away – where
Achebe was born
 Set up Republic of
Biafra

Achebe and Biafra
Relations between Nigeria and Biafra strained
Achebe’s house was bombed, family forced to
flee violence
 Achebe served as an ambassador
 Criticized Britain for backing Nigeria during
conflict, stating Nigerian government was the
same as the colonial, only now black


– Still oppressing the people and enabling white forces
to be in power
Biafran bid for independence ended in 1970
when the Biafran military surrendered
Life as a scholar

Achebe returned to writing
– Wrote controversial An Image of Africa: Racism in
Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”





Began teaching at the University of Nigeria in
1976
1987, his fifth book, Anthills of the Savannah
published
1990, began teaching literature and writing at
Bard College in New York
In Fall 2009, took a position at Brown University,
where he is today
More than 8 million copies of TFA sold to date
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Things Fall Apart: An introduction