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Theodore's Boy

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (photographed)

  • Date:

    ca. 1868 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Albumen print

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room 512M, case MX10, shelf X, box 725

Prince Alamayou (1861-1879) was the orphaned son of the Ethiopian emperor Tewodros II (Theodore) and his second wife, Queen Woyzaro Terunesh. Tewodros committed suicide just before British forces captured his fortress at Maqdala (Magdala) in April 1868. The Queen died the same year whilst being escorted to her native province of Semyen. On her request the Prince was brought to England under the guardianship of Captain Speedy, an army officer who had spent time in Abyssinia and spoke Amharic. Speedy took Alamayou to the Isle of Wight where he was introduced to Queen Victoria, whose family spent summers on the island. The Prince made a strong impression on Victoria and, with her support, received an English education. His death of pleurisy at the age of eighteen was described by the Queen as 'too sad'.

This image of Alamayou appears in a photograph album belonging to the Melville family. Images of Alamayou were circulated amongst a British public fascinated by the story of the orphan African prince, particularly in the form of cabinet cards and cartes de visite However the presentation of this image in a family album and its titling of 'Theodore's Boy' suggest Alamayou was known to the family. Ronald Leslie Melville was an amateur photographer and had joined the British expedition to Ethiopia in 1868.

Physical description

Photograph taken of Dejatch Alamayou, probably shortly after his arrival in England (1868). The prince is seated, wearing a white shirt, with necklace with large pear-shaped pendants, a jacket and trouser suit and holds a straw hat. The photograph is one of four on the page, positioned in the bottom right. The other photographs are of '1. Aunt Raikes', '2. Robert Williams' and '3. Ethel Curtis'.

Place of Origin

England (photographed)


ca. 1868 (photographed)



Materials and Techniques

Albumen print

Marks and inscriptions

Image title in handwritten text: 'Theodore's boy'.


Height: 28.7 cm (album page), Width: 22 cm (album page, approx.), Height: 8.6 cm (photograph), Width: 5.7 cm (photograph)

Descriptive line

Photograph of 'Theodore's Boy' (Prince Dejatch Alamayou), Melville family album, England, ca.1868

Production Note

Photographer could be Ronald Leslie Melville


African Diaspora; Black History; Portraits


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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