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October 2019 Notable Maryland Author Matthew A. Henson

Matthew Alexander Henson

“I was in the lead that had overshot the mark a couple of miles. We went back then and I could see that my footprints were the first at the spot.” -- Matthew A. Henson

Matthew Alexander Henson, (August 8, 1866 - March 9, 1955) was born on a farm in Nanjemoy, Maryland, moved to Washington, DC, became a ship’s cabin boy at 12, and traveled to ports in China, Japan, Africa, and the Russian Arctic. The ship’s captain took Henson under his wing and taught him to read and write. At age 25, Henson met Robert Peary and spent the next 16 years of his life with Peary on seven Arctic expeditions learning how to reach the North Pole. On April 6, 1909, during their 8th expedition, they reached and conquered the North Pole. In that moment, Matthew Henson became the greatest Negro explorer of all time.

In 1912, Matthew Henson published his memoir, A Negro Explorer at the North Pole. In it, he described himself as a "general assistant, skilled craftsperson, interpreter [he had learned an Inuit language], and laborer.” In 1937, he was the first African American to be made a life member of The Explorers Club. In 1944, Henson was awarded the Peary Polar Expedition Medal and he was received at the White House by Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. In 1947, he collaborated with author Bradley Robinson on a biography, Dark Companion, which told more about his life. In 1988, he and his wife were re-interred at Arlington National Cemetery and in 2000, the National Geographic Society posthumously awarded Henson the Hubbard Medal.

Genre: Personal Adventure

Personal Adventure is autobiography dedicated to describing the process involved, work required, and obstacles overcome to accomplish a specific extraordinary goal, usually involving overcoming the power and strength of the natural world.

Partial reading list: A Negro Explorer at the North Pole, Dark Companion

Writer's Prompt - Fun With Words

Maryland Writers’ Association (MWA) invites you to have fun writing Personal Adventure. Using just 100 words, write a Personal Adventure account where your character accomplishes a significant goal in a harsh environment (water, land, air, space) after overcoming harsh obstacles. Have fun and send us your result.

Submit Your FUN WITH WORDS Prompt

Submit by the 25th of the month and receive an MWA Fun With Words Submission Certificate.  Selected submissions may be published at www.mwawritersroundtable.org the following month.

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