'A scout must always be prepared at any moment to do his duty, and to face danger in order to help his fellow-men.'
A startling amalgam of Zulu war-cry and imperial and urban myth, of borrowed tips on health and hygiene, and object lessons in woodcraft, Robert Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys (1908) is the original blueprint and 'self-instructor' of the Boy Scout Movement. One of the all-time bestsellers in the English-speaking world, this primer of 'yarns and pictures' constitutes probably the most influential manual for youth ever published. Yet the book is at the same time a roughly composed
hodge-podge of jingoist lore and tracker legend, padded with lengthy quotations from adventure fiction and Baden-Powell's own autobiography, and seamed through with the multiple anxieties of its time: fears of degeneration, concerns about masculinity and self-restraint, invasion paranoia.
Elleke Boehmer's edition of Scouting for Boys reprints the original text and illustrations, and her fine introduction investigates a book that has been cited as an authority by militarists and pacifists, capitalists and environmentalists alike.
Elleke Boehmer is the Professor of World Literature in English at the University of Oxford, and Director of the Oxford Life Writing Centre at Wolfson College. A founding figure in the field of colonial and postcolonial literary studies, she is the author, editor, or co-editor of over twenty books, including monographs and novels. Her monographs include Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (1995/2005), Stories of Women (2005), Indian Arrivals (winner ESSE 2015-16 prize), and Postcolonial Poetics (2018). Her novels include The Shouting in the Dark (long-listed Sunday Times prize, 2015), and Screens again the Sky (short-listed David Higham Prize 1990). Sharmilla and other Portraits is her 2010 volume of short stories. She is the General Editor of the Oxford Studies in Postcolonial Literatures Series.