Born in Greece to an Irish soldier and a Greek mother, Lafcadio Hearn
emigrated to the United States at the age of nineteen. While working as a
newspaperman in Cincinnati, Ohio, Hearn married a black woman, which was then
illegal, and fled to New Orleans to escape prosecution. Once there, he began to
work for the New Orleans Item. During his time in New Orleans, Hearn
published several books while continuing his work as a journalist.
As a broke newspaper reporter, Hearn was interested in inexpensive meals, so
he assembled a collection of Creole recipes, which he later published. Lafcadio
Hearn's Creole Cookbook, the first Creole cookbook ever
written, reflects the life and customs of New Orleans during the late 1800s.
Asked to write the guidebook for the 1884 Cotton Expedition, Hearn agreed, but
only if the publisher would also publish his cookbook. Chita: A Memory of
Last Island (F) tells the story of a shipwrecked girl adopted
by a Spanish family. Their different languages and cultures collide and blend
into a unique way of life.
Hearn was fascinated by the exotic, the quaint, and the unusual. This lead to
his studies of the Far East, and eventually, Hearn moved to Japan, where he
hoped to escape the materialism of the Western world. He secured a university
teaching position and soon married a Japanese woman, becoming a Japanese citizen
in 1895 under the name Yakumo Koizumi. He continued writing and published
numerous books describing the life and customs of his new home, including Kwaidan,
Ghostly Japan, and Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation.