Chinua Achebe was born on November 15, 1930 in Ogidi, Nigeria. During his childhood, Achebe was influenced by the strong surrounding Igbo culture, becoming very intrigued by traditional storytelling from a young age. He was influenced by the collages of almanacs and books his father made. Achebe was a gifted student and earned himself a scholarship to continue to undergraduate studies. Through his education, he became enthralled by African culture and world religions.
Chinua Achebe was a very skilled student and quickly moved up in grade school once teachers recognized his talent. In his youth, he attended Sunday school regularly, which affected his writing later in life. When he was twelve, Achebe moved to the village of Nekede to attend Central School, where his brother worked. At this school, he grew fond of Mbari, an art form that appeals to the gods' protection through sculpture and collage. As for his secondary education, Achebe was accepted into two very prestigious schools based on his entrance exam scores: Dennis Memorial Grammar School and Government College. Chinua excelled in the Government College, completing two years' studies in one. Once Nigeria's first university opened, Achebe was admitted immediately and was given a large scholarship to support his studies in medicine. Later, he changed his major to English, then history, and finally theology. While at the university, he wrote his first short story, "In a Village Church".
Novels: Things Fall Apart (1958), No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), Anthills of the Savannah (1987)
Short Stories: "Marriage Is A Private Affair" (1952), "Dead Men's Path" (1953), The Sacrificial Egg and Other Stories (1953), "Civil Peace" (1971), Girls at War and Other Stories (1973), African Short Stories (editor, with C.L. Innes) (1985), Heinemann Book of Contemporary African Short Stories (editor, with C.L. Innes) (1992)
Altogether, he has written 29 novels, short stories, essays, poems, and childrens' books.
Things Fall Apart
The title for this novel comes from the novel "The Second Coming" (1921). It took a couple of tries for Achebe's novel to be published; some publishing companies argued that there was not a market for fiction written by African authors. Eventually, 2,000 hardcover copies were published on June 17, 1958. Things Fall Apart saw great success, selling over 8 million copies worldwide. Chinua Achebe became the most translated African author of all time, with his novel translated into over 50 languages.
Achebe's Lasting Influence
Chinua Achebe became known as the father of modern African writing, as well as the first living author to be represented in the Everyman's Library Collection. He has been awarded over 30 honorary degrees from universities around the world.
Achebe has defined himself as a cultural nationalist with a revolutionary mission "to help my society regain belief in itself and put away the complexes of the years of denigration and self-abasement."