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Bruce and Adele King

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Bruce and Adele King
Bruce (b. 1933) and Adele King (1932-2018) donated 12 Yoruba ritual objects, as well as a South Asian Dhokra cast sculpture to the College in honor of their late daughter, Nicole M. King (Class of 1986). Despite having been raised all over the world, Nicole wanted to go to college in the United States; she chose Bryn Mawr College where she majored in Art History. While at Bryn Mawr, Nicole worked in Special Collections as a student assistant under the guidance of Carol W. Campbell, then Constance A. Jones Curator.

Nicole grew up in several different countries, moving with her parents when their work as scholars took them across Africa, Europe, and North America. As a child Nicole also had a small part as an extra in the film A Little Romance (1972) staring Laurence Olivier, although the experience left her not wanting to partake in films again. After graduation, Nicole moved to Paris where she worked in art galleries, including as Assistant at Galerie Beaubourg, owned by Marianne and Pierre Nahon, who dealt primarily in contemporary art. While in Paris she was also a part-time English language instructor. Nicole died in an apartment fire in 1990.

Bruce A. King and Adele (Brown Cockshoot) King met on a ship that was taking them to different destinations in Europe in 1954. The couple married in St. Louis, Missouri in 1955. In 1967 they moved to Lagos, Nigeria where Bruce earned tenure in the English department at the University of Lagos. They left Nigeria briefly in 1970 when Bruce accepted another teaching position in Windsor, Canada, but returned in 1973, when both Bruce and Adele were appointed to the faculty of Ahmadu Bellow University. They remained in Nigeria until 1976.

The Kings collected Yoruba objects between 1967–1970 while they were teaching at Lagos University in Nigeria. All of the objects were created in the late 19th–early 20th centuries; they include an Agba Ogboni (drum), an Egungun (masquerade) headdress, a kneeling female figure, and a sowing game. According to Bruce King, all the items were used ritually before their purchase. These objects were presented to the Collections Committee on June 6 and 20, 2003; an additional eleven objects were donated just a few months later in December of 2003.

Bruce studied English at Columbia University (B.A. 1954), Leeds University (1954 – 55), and University of Minnesota (1955 – 56), before earning his PhD at Leeds in 1960. The self-proclaimed wandering scholar taught English at several institutions over the course of his career, including Brooklyn College, City University of New York, USA, (1960-61), University of Alberta, Calgary, Canada (1961-62) University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1962-65), University of Bristol, England (1966-67), University of Lagos, Nigeria (1967-70), University of Windsor, Canada (1970-73), Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria (1973-76) where he was department head, New Sorbonne University Paris 3, France (1977-78), University of Stirling, Scotland (1979), University of Canterbury, New Zealand, (1979-83), University of North Alabama (1983-86), University of Bayreuth, Germany (1984), Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel (1987-89), University of Paris 7, France (1990-91), and University of Angers, France (1995). His fourteen publications include Dryden’s Major Plays (1966), The Internationalization of English Literature 1948-2000 (2003), Three Indian Poets: Ezekiel, Ramanujan and Moraes (revised 2005), and his most recent work From New National to World Literature (2016).

Adele studied philosophy at the University of Iowa (B.A. 1954), Leeds University (M.A. 1961), and University of Paris (PhD, 1970). Adele was a lecturer in French at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1963-65) and head of the French Division at the University of Lagos, Nigeria (1967-70). She was appointed head of the French Division and Senior Lecturer, then Reader in French at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria (1973-1976). Later, she was Professor of French and Head of the Modern Language Department at Ball State University (1991-1994). Adele’s publications, including books on Camus (1964), Proust (1968), Paul Nizan, écrivain (1976), were translated into German and Italian. She was also editor for the journal Women in French Studies (1996-2001) and co-editor with Eva Figgis of Women Writers (1987-1994). She was Vice President of the International Association of Doctors of French Universities (1991-2000). Her passions for French literature, African literature, and women’s writing drove her research and collecting.


King, Bruce. Interesting Life, So Far: Memoirs of Literary and Musical Peregrinations. Stuttgart: Edition Noëma, 2017.

Makwad, Christiane P. “In Memoriam: Adele C. King.” Women in French Newsletter, 32, no. 2 (Fall 2018): 2-3.

Rea, Annabelle. “History,” Women in French. Last updated December 2002. Accessed June 8, 2021.

Special Collections staff, Email correspondence with Bruce and Adele King, June 6 and 20, 2003. (IMG in EmbARK, Special Collections, Bryn Mawr College).

Verkruisen, Kaylee. Email correspondence with Bruce King, Spring 2021. (PDF in EmbARK, Special Collections, Bryn Mawr College).

Objects donated by Bruce and Adele King

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