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Bishop Colenso,' Sobantu', 1882

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y3058F/1

Scope and Contents

108 x 143 mm. A half-length studio portrait of John William Colenso (1814-1883) taken in Durban in 1882.

Colenso, born of a poor family in St. Austell, showed a marked aptitude for mathematics and had a brilliant student career at St. John's Cambridge to which college he was elected a fellow. From 1838-42 he was a tutor of mathematics at Harrow and after his marriage in 1846 held a living in Norfolk. He was appointed Bishop of Natal and Zululand in 1853 and arrived permanently in Natal in 1855. A remarkable scholar of the Zulu language, Colenso's achievements in this field were overshadowed in contemporary eyes by his controversial interpretation of the scriptures and his advocacy of Zulu rights. His heretical teachings culminated in his excommunication from his See in 1863, but this verdict was overturned on appeal. A fervent supporter of Cetshwayo, Colenso's support played a great part in his reinstatement to the Zulu kingship.


  • Creation: 1882


Conditions Governing Access

From the Fonds:

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Benjamin Kisch was a commercial photographer active in South Africa. From 1872-83 he had a studio at Smith Street East, Durban. From 1884-87 he was based at Mercury Lane. Durban. He died circa 1887. His wife continued the business at 12 Mercury Lane until circa 1893. Source: ensusan, A.D. (1963), '19th century photographers in South Africa'. 'Africana notes and news'. Volume 15, number 6, pp.219-252.

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Fair condition, some overall fading and yellowing.

Existence and Location of Copies

CN 3281.


An engraving from this photograph, credited to B. Kisch of Durban, is reproduced as the frontispiece to: Cox, G W (1888), 'The life of John William Colenso, Bishop of Natal', London: W. Ridgway.

Finding aid date

2006-10-04 16:38:04+00:00

Includes index.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom