An American author and literary figure in the last quarter of the 19th century, Lafcadio Hearn was known for his fiction and his reportage from the Caribbean and Japan. His own life, however, was as fascinating as fiction itself, and his biography reads like a Charles Dickens novel that morphs into a Hemingway memoir.
Born to a Greek mother and an Irish father, Hearn was brought up in Greece, Ireland, England and France. After moving to Dublin when he was five, his parents divorced. His mother remarried and returned to Greece, while his soldier father was sent to India with his new wife. Hearn was left in Ireland with his aunt, Sarah Brenane, who sent him to a Catholic school in France on the advice of her financial advisor, Henry Molyneux.
From there, Hearn went to yet another school in England, but was forced to leave when Molyneux suffers some financial setbacks. His aunt died and Molyneux became her heir. When Hearn turned nineteen, Molyneux gave him a ticket to New York City. From there, he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where a relative of Molyneux’s was supposed to help him, but didn’t. Hearn lived in abject poverty. But thanks to his multinational upbringing, he was literate and knew several languages.