Appiah, Peggy 1921–2006

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Appiah, Peggy 1921–2006

(Enid Margaret Cripps)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born May 21, 1921, in Gloucestershire, England; died of a heart attack, February 11, 2006, in Kumasi, Ghana. Author. A prolific author of children's books, Appiah was married to a Ghanaian aristocrat, lived in Ghana, and based her juvenile books on the local folklore. The daughter of a British cabinet official and a descendant of William the Conqueror, Appiah (née Cripps) followed her family to Moscow during World War II. Her father was an ambassador there, and she herself would work as a research assistant for the Russian Division of the British Ministry of Information during the war. After the war, she moved to Iran and worked for the British Army. Returning home to London, she was a secretary for Racial Unity from 1951 until 1953. That year, she created a social scandal that was talked about around the world by marrying Joseph Emmanuel Appiah, the right-hand man of Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah. At the time she first met Appiah, he was still a law student in London, and their romance is believed by many to have inspired the film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, which is about a white woman's engagement to a black doctor and the discomfort it causes her parents. Marrying Appiah, the future author moved with him to Africa, bearing him four children and supporting him through troubled times when he was imprisoned after political disagreements with his former ally, Nkrumah. Peggy Appiah embraced Ghana as her new home. The author of a collection of poetry and two adult novels—A Smell of Onions (1971) and A Dirge Too Soon (1976)—she became best known for her children's books, which are inspired by native Ashanti folklore. Among these are Ananse the Spider: Tales from an Ashanti Village (1966), Why There Are So Many Roads (1972), Why the Hyena Does Not Care for Fish and Other Tales from the Ashanti Gold Weights (1977), Kofi and the Crow (1991), and the children's poetry book Thought Birds (2001). Chairing the advisory committee of the Kumasi Children's Home in Ghana for many years, Appiah was also very active in founding philanthropic organizations. Though she became Ghanaian, Appiah was honored by her native land by being named a Member of the Order of the British Empire. Her last book, Bu Me Be (2001), is a collection of seven thousand Ashanti proverbs.



New York Times, February 16, 2006, p. A28.

Times (London, England), March 17, 2006, p. 72.