Fitzmaurice’s King Leopold’s Ghostwriter is a fascinating Dickensian tale of law and extreme hubris upending one of Oxford, the law, and Queen Victoria’s own—Sir Travers Twiss. His failed attempt to conceal that he had married a prostitute ultimately led him to an ill-advised, and self-contradictory, endorsement of Belgian King Leopold II’s establishment of the Congo Free State. Indeed, Twiss’ every professional accomplishment is now subject to a severe re-assessment in the light of his willingness to do Leopold’s dirty work and thus place millions of Congolese in serious harm’s way. More Congolese would have lived, and Africa might have remained less scrambled if Twiss had not married a prostitute and been exposed as a fabulous mountebank.

You do not currently have access to this content.