|About the Book|
Joy Adamson (20 January 1910 – 3 January 1980) (born Friederike Victoria Gessner) was a naturalist, artist, and author best known for her book, Born Free, which describes her experiences raising a lion cub named Elsa. Born Free was printed in several languages, and made into an Academy Award-winning movie of the same name. In 1977, she was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art. Born to Victor and Traute Gessner in Troppau, Silesia, Austria-Hungary (now Opava, Czech Republic) and was the 2nd of 3 girls. Her father was a wealthy architect. After the divorce, Joy went to live with her grandmother. In her autobiography The Searching Spirit, Adamson wrote about her grandmother, saying, It is to her I owe anything that may be good in me. Adamson considered careers as a concert pianist, and in medicine, but did not take her finals in medicine, instead chosing to get married. She married 3 times in the span of ten years. Her husbands were Viktor von Klarwill (Ziebel) 1902-1985, (Jewish Austrian), the botanist Peter Bally (divorced in 1942), who gave her the nickname Joy, and lastly game warden George Adamson. Viktor sent her to Africa, Bally influenced her painting and drawing of the people and the plant life of Africa. 600 of her paintings now belong to the National Museum of Kenya. The Colonial Government of Kenya commissioned her to paint portraits of members of 22 tribes whose culture was vanishing. It was during her marriage to George Adamson that she lived in tent camps in Kenya and first met Elsa, the topic of her famous book Born Free. Adamson is best known for her conservation efforts associated with Elsa the Lioness. They decided to set her free rather than send her to a zoo, and spent many months training her to hunt and survive on her own. They were successful in the end, and Elsa became the first lioness successfully released back into the wild, the first to have contact after release, and the first known to have cubs. The Adamsons kept their distance from the cubs, getting close enough only to photograph them. After the book was written and published in 1960, it became a bestseller, spending 13 weeks at the top of The New York Times Best Seller list and nearly a year on the chart overall. After Elsa died, George and Joy Adamson separated and were not together after 1971. On 3 January 1980, in Shaba National Reserve in Kenya, Joy Adamsons body was discovered by her assistant, Peter Morson (sometimes reported as Pieter Mawson). He mistakenly assumed she had been killed by a lion, and this was what was initially reported by the media. Police investigation found Adamsons wounds were too sharp and bloodless to have been caused by an animal, and concluded she had been murdered. Paul Nakware Ekai, a discharged laborer formerly employed by Adamson, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to imprisonment at President Daniel arap Mois pleasure. Joys widower, George Adamson, was murdered 9 years later, in 1989, near his camp in Kora National by poachers.